Untitled (Very Artistic), 1968
1 type-written page with multiple correspondence on Ray Johnson letterhead, stamped and with personal note to V. Romano in black marker SIGNED with a bunny; 1 hand-written letter in black marker on yellow lined paper with red strip of tape diagonally running from top left corner to bottom right; 2 envelopes, 1 with V. Romano written on it in black markprand the other with Ray Johnson stamped address and addressed to V. Romano in black marker; detatch and send form
8 1/2h x 11w in
Ray Johnson (1927–1995) was an American artist seminal in the Pop art movement of the 1950s, an early conceptualist and a pioneer of the mail art network- the New York Correspondence School. His preferred medium was collage through which he would bring together disparate visual and verbal materials to the point where the lines between life and art were completely blurred. For Johnson, mail art involved self-dissemination, the pleasant recruitment of others and an extensive gift economy. The whole concept of authorship was completely disrupted as was the commodification and institutionalization of art. Johnson’s mail art was markedly private while fostering community. His whole identity was reflected in it through its ever-evolving, metamorphic raw materials, methods, intersections, and collaborations. Characters like Mickey Mouse and Helena Rubenstein were present in many of Ray's mailings as he was attracted to stars and cultural icons. All of his mailings were specific to the recipients, nothing was left to chance, everything had a specific meaning - which might be indecipherable to us.
“My notion was that Ray didn’t make the first piece of mail art, but his creation of a school around that activity was the benediction for a folk-art movement in motion. Some of these letters were finished statements or handmade objects; others were exquisite corpses conducted by mail, objects that traveled and accumulated the mojo of human touch and attention as they were ever modified. The latter was the kind of thing Ray did: he mailed objects and letters and asked the recipients to add to them and then return them, or send them along to other destinations. Ray’s handmade work, cryptic and rarely seen, was striking, sure, but humorous, too, a quality I really like in art. It had a purposive childishness, but also a readily appreciable design rigor—a controlled looseness, beautiful color, shape and textural sense, a mastery of a private hieroglyphics of bunnies and goo-goo eyes. . . . He was a major alchemist, employing the power of the small, personal gesture.”– Gary Panter, ‘Please Forward Contents’, The Paris Review, 2014