Lomholt Mail Art Archive

Index: Ray Johnson


Ray Johnson, credited as the founder or father of Mail Art, was born October 16, 1927 in Detroit, Michigan, USA. Already as a teenager he underwent classic artistic education at Cass Tech high school. From 1945–48 he studied at Black Mountain College in Asheville. John Cage has been an important teacher.
After his graduation he went to New York City, where he soon became popular in the art scene. He started doing hundreds of small works starting from dadaistic collages. He called his constructions, for which he often used parts of newspapers, “Moticos”. In search of an easy way to distribute his art he discovered the xerox machine and the postal service. He founded the New York Correspondance School of Art in 1962 and was part the New York Fluxus Group. Since 1967 he organized meetings and events and took part in various Mail Art projects and collective exhibitions. In 1970 the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York offered him a solo exhibition. On that occasion, Ray Johnson invited his correspondents to send something to the museum. 106 artists participatet in the first exhibition about the New York Correspondence School of Art, Johnson himself refrained.

On January 13, 1995 he ended his life by jumping into water. His body was found in a little bay near Sag Harbor on Long Island. Up to now he is fairly unknown to a larger public, within the contemporary artistic scene he is a legendary outsider. The New York Feigen Galery represents him.
His first solo exhibition in Germany took place in Kassel in 2003. Lately Ray Johnsons work had been shown in the following exhibitions:

2009 Ray Johnson: Please Add To & Return, Raven Row London, Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), Centre Pompidou, Paris.
2010 A Book About Death, Amsterdam Art Society. From BMC to NYC: The Tutelary Years of Ray Johnson 1943–1967, Black Mountain College Museum and Arts Center, Asheville.
2011 Kurt Schwitters & Ray Johnson – Merz & Moticos, Max Ernst Museum, Brühl.
2011/12 Aurel Scheibler Gallery, Berlin.
2012 Ray Johnson: I like funny stories, Weserburg – Das Neue Museum, Bremen.

Literature (selection)

Johnson, Ray: Correspondences, (Flammarion) 1999, ISBN: 2080136631.
Trasov, Vincent & Morris, Michael: Ray Johnson – How Sad I am Today…, University of British Coloumbia, Vancouver 1999.
Johnson, Ray: The Name of the Game, The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Norway, 2003.
Umfrage zu Ray Johnson (Faltblatt Seite 1 | Seite 2), Berlin 2005.

Documentary on Johnson

How to Draw a Bunny (USA 2002; Regie: John W. Walter) (IMBD)


Mail Artists Index: http://mailartists.wordpress.com/2007/07/02/ray-johnson/

Displaying all 3 posts by the networker in Lomholt Mail Art Archive
S 1978 03 08 johnson prison 001
Prison, 0011
Ray Johnson
S 1978 03 13 johnson 001
Letter from Johnson
Ray Johnson
S 1980 00 00 johnson 001
Mail Art Document by Johnson
Ray Johnson