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Ray Johnson

Ray Johnson
9.8 × 12.3 inches
296 pages

Pioneer of mail art and an early participant in both the Pop and Fluxus movements, Ray Johnson created complex, punning works that ingeniously combine text and image, celebrity culture and art history, wit and melancholy. Figures such as Mickey Mouse, Elvis Presley, James Dean, Michael Jackson and Calvin Klein models populate his many collages—a candid foreshadowing of current societal obsession. In the 20 years since his death, Johnson’s work has become an increasingly accurate depiction of our fragmented and overstimulated society and includes some of the most recognizable imagery from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Beautifully designed, this massive compendium includes 296 color reproductions of collages, drawings, interventions and other ephemera from Johnson’s estate.

Born in Detroit, Michigan, Ray Johnson (1927–1995) studied under Josef Albers and Robert Motherwell at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, and worked as a painter early in his career, exhibiting alongside Ad Reinhardt and Charmion von Wiegand before embracing pop imagery, collage and mail art, producing thousands of collages and other works on paper. His life and death (by suicide, jumping from a bridge in Sag Harbor, Long Island) were the subject of the award-winning documentary How to Draw a Bunny (2002).

  1. Ray Johnson

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