Ray Johnson: The Paper Snake


  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Siglio (July 31, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 11 x 8.8 inches
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Although artist Ray Johnson created plenty of conventional art objects – mostly quixotic, irreverent collages – his most sustained efforts took the form of letters, sent to hundreds of recipients, including such art stars as Andy Warhol, Yoko Ono and John Cage. Throughout his 40-year career, he zealously monitored the membership of his own artistic movement, the New York Correspondance School (misspelling and double or triple innuendoes intentional). And although he detested the term – or any label, for that matter – he was a leading practitioner of mail art, in which language and the letter opened onto endless chains of meaning. Selections from this prodigious output are lovingly documented in two new titles from Siglio Press. (Sharon Mizota Los Angeles Times 2014-08-01)


Looking at the drawings and notes that make up this reissued artist book, one yearns to claim Ray Johnson, the founder of the mail art movement, as a correspondent in this e-mail-benighted age. The project consists of the letters Johnson, who died in 1995, sent to his friend, the poet and Fluxus artist Dick Higgins, and is part of his movement, in which small works are sent through the post, creating a system of sharing work outside museums and galleries. By turns humorous, clever, and paranoid (“Dorothy Podber is going to put 183 agents in your apartment,” reads one scrap), the book grants readers highly personal access to Johnson’s unique mind. (Zoë Lescaze ARTnews 2014-06-11)


Ray Johnson was “kind of like a queer and gossipy downtown Joseph Beuys”- Matt Connors

Additional information

Weight 1.3 lbs
Dimensions 0.5 × 11 × 8.8 in