Ray Johnson’s Art World
On view through Friday, January 16, 2015
Richard L. Feigen & Co., 34 East 69th Street, New York, NY
Extended Hours: Saturday, January 10, 11:00am-5:00pm
Regular Hours: Monday through Friday, 10:00am-6:00pm
Ray Johnson, Self Portrait with Ed Ruscha Works, 1975-81-86-87, collage on illustration board, 9 x 11 1/4 inches.
“Johnson’s collages remain unrivaled in American art history, both for their sheer quantities and their technical intricacy.” – Utne
“[Ray Johnson] wooed legions of fans from his artistic peers, generation after generation, working alongside, behind, and around nearly everyone who mattered over the last half-century, and managing, therefore, to play a formative role in the major art movements of the late 20th century.” – New York Magazine
Artinfo: Ray Johnson Spree Continues at Richard L. Feigen & Co.
Harper’s Bazaar: Ray Johnson: Art’s Pen Pal
VOGUE: Ed Ruscha, John Baldessari, and Others Debut Homages to Artist Ray Johnson
i-D: Ray Johnson and The Birth of Mail Art
Ray Johnson’s Art World is highlighted by original works by these artists, including John Baldessari’s Blasted Allegories (1978) an exploration into the complex structure of established rules and conditions governing the use and practice of image as language; original documentation of Lynda Benglis’s controversial 1974 Artforum spread, along with her sculpture Parenthesis (1975), consisting of two cast aluminum dildos in a velvet lined box; Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece (1964), filmed by the Maysles Brothers, a performance in which the audience can approach her with instructions to use a pair of scissors to cut her dress; an original Andy Warhol, Large Cambell’s Soup Can from 1964; and an important early collage by James Rosenquist, A Drawing While Waiting for an Idea (1966), which represents an Eastern philosophical turn in Rosenquist’s thought. These works and many more will be shown alongside Johnson’s independent exploration of the concepts, practices and interests he shared with his contemporaries and friends.
The exhibition is designed to compliment Elizabeth Zuba’s Not Nothing: Selected Writings by Ray Johnson, 1954-1994, a collection of over 200 unpublished writings that provides a textual parallel to Ray Johnson’s Art World.
Ray Johnson was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1927. He began his artistic training at Cass Technical High School, and then at Black Mountain College from 1945-48. In early 1949, Johnson moved to New York City with fellow Black Mountain associates Richard Lippold and John Cage, as well as the avant-garde musician Morton Feldman. Johnson’s body of work spans many media, but he is most known for his intricate and complex collages, and his mail art project, The New York Correspondance [sic] School, a movement that utilized the postal system as a means of distribution outside of the commercial art world and that eventually reached international proportions. In 1968, Johnson moved to Long Island, New York, where he lived and worked in increasing isolation. While Johnson has remained relatively unknown, he was an influence on a friend of key art figures, including Andy Warhol, Chuck Close, and Roy Lichtenstein. He is associated with several art movements and groups, such as Pop Art, Conceptual Art, and the Fluxus group. Johnson continued to produce work until his suicide in 1995, an act that many consider to be his final performance.
Left: Ray Johnson, Untitled (Lynda Benglis with Moticos), 1987, collage on illustration board, 12-7/8 by 8-3/4 inches, Right: Ray Johnson, Untitled (Campbell’s Soup with Cut-out Circles), c. 1973-88, collage on illustration board, 9 by 11-1/4 inches