Ray Johnson
Collage Artist and Founder of Mail Art

(Oben: Bildschirmfoto des folgenden Vimeo Accounts https://vimeo.com/110857936)
Above: Screenshot of the following Vimeo accounts: https://vimeo.com/110857936)

Im Hinblick auf eine Ausstellung in New York zu Ehren von Ray Johnson, bei der ich mit einer Arbeit dabei sein und über die ich im nächsten Artikel berichten werde, möchte ich hier ein wenig über Ray Johnson schreiben. (Achtung: textlastiger Artikel)

Eine ausführliche Biographie und ein Überblick über seine Werke sind auf der sehr empfehlenswerten homepage der Ray Johnson Estate zu finden.

Ray Johnson (1927 – 1995) war ein US-amerikanischer, unglaublich produktiver und innovativer Künstler. Er wurde am 16. Oktober 1927 in Detroit/Michigan geboren. Bereits als Teenager erwarb er eine klassische Kunstausbildung an der Cass Tech-High School. Von 1945 bis 48 studierte er am Black Mountain College in Asheville. Ein wichtiger Lehrer war John Cage. Nach dem Abschluss seines Studiums ging Ray Johnson nach New York City, wo sein Name in der Kunstszene bald ein Begriff war.” (Quelle)

Neben vielen anderen Kunstformen produzierte er auch hunderte von kleinen Arbeiten,  Collagen, die er Moticos nannte.  Weil er die institutionalisierte und kommerzialisierte Kunstwelt gering schätze und auf der Suche nach einer anderen Möglichkeit war, seine Kunst zu verbreiten und der Öffentlichkeit zugänglich zu machen, entdeckte er für sich für den Postversand und wurde so Begründer der Mail Art. 1962 gründete er die  New York Correspondance School (ja, mit A!), “ein alternatives soziales Netzwerk, das [...] Freunde, Bekannte und Fremde ermutigte, ihre Kunst über das Postsystem zu teilen” (Quelle), und in deren Namen vielfältige Mail Art Aktionen ins Leben gerufen wurden. Ein interessanter Artikel darüber von Sofia Kofodimos, mit zahlreichen Abbildungen, ist hier zu lesen.

Nach den Attentaten auf Andy Warhol und Robert F. (Bobby) Kennedy und einem selbst erlittenen Überfall 1968 zog Ray Johnson zeitnah fort aus New York zunächst nach Glen Cove, Long Island, und dann in das nahegelegene Locust Valley. Er zog sich immer mehr aus dem öffentlichen Leben zurück, hielt jedoch seine Kontakte über ein sich stark ausweitendes Mail Art Netzwerk.

Er selbst bezeichnete sich als ”mysteriöse und geheime Organisation”  (Quelle) – und so sind die ungeklärten Umstände rund um seinen Tod nur schlüssig: In einer kleinen Bucht in Long Island wurde 1995 seine Leiche gefunden – man geht von Selbstmord aus.

“Nach Johnsons Selbstmord setzten sich die Filmemacher Andrew Moore und John Walter mit der Unterstützung und Aufsicht von Frances Beatty, Vizepräsident von Richard L. Feigen & Co. und Direktor des Ray Johnson Estate, sechs Jahre lang mit den Geheimnissen von Johnsons Leben und Kunst auseinander . Aus ihrer Zusammenarbeit entstand 2003 der preisgekrönte Dokumentarfilm How To Draw a Bunny. How To Draw a Bunny untersucht Johnsons Leben, Kunst, seine ambivalente Einstellung zum Ruhm und schließlich seinen mysteriösen Tod. Der Film enthält unter anderem Interviews mit den Künstlern Chuck Close, James Rosenquist, Billy Name, Christo und Jeanne-Claude und der Gründerin des Living Theatre, Judith Malina.” (Quelle)

Ich habe mir die Dokumentation How To Draw a Bunny angeschaut – auf Vimeo vollständig aufrufbar, leider nur in Englisch ohne deutschen Untertitel – dennoch absolut sehenswert. Dieser Film ist, neben der homepage der Ray Johnson Estate, meine zweite Empfehlung.

“Einem größeren Publikum sind Ray Johnsons Arbeiten bis heute weitgehend unbekannt, innerhalb der zeitgenössischen Kunstszene hat er jedoch den Rang eines legendären Außenseiters.” (Quelle)

 

english version:
In view of an exhibition in New York in honour to Ray Johnson, where I will be represented with one work and report about in the next article, I would like to write a little about Ray Johnson here. (Attention: text-heavy article)

A detailed biography and an overview of his works can be found on the highly recommended homepage of the Ray Johnson Estate.

Ray Johnson (1927 – 1995) was an American, incredibly productive and innovative artist. He “was born on October 16, 1927 in Detroit, Michigan. Already as a teenager he acquired a classical art education at the Cass Tech-High School. From 1945 to 48 he studied at Black Mountain College in Asheville. John Cage was an important teacher. After completing his studies, Ray Johnson went to New York City, where his name soon became a well known name in the art scene.” (Source)

Besides many other art forms he produced hundreds of small works, collages, which he called Moticos. Because he disliked the institutionalized and commercialized art world and was in search of another way to spread his art and make it accessible to the public, he discovered for himself the mail and became the founder of Mail Art. In 1962, he founded the New York Correspondance School, (yes, with an A!)  “an alternative social network that [...] encouraged friends, acquaintances, and strangers to share their art through the postal system” (Source), in whose name various Mail Art actions were launched. An interesting article about this by Sofia Kofodimos, with numerous illustrations, can be read here.

After the assassinations of Andy Warhol and Robert F. (Bobby) Kennedy and a self-inflicted raid in 1968, Ray Johnson promptly moved away from New York, first to Glen Cove, Long Island, and then to nearby Locust Valley. He retired more and more from public life, but kept his contacts through an expanding mail art network.

He described himself as a “mysterious and secret organization” (source) – and so the unresolved circumstances surrounding his death are only conclusive: In a small bay in Long Island his body was found in 1995 – one assumes suicide.

“Following Johnson’s suicide, filmmakers Andrew Moore and John Walter, with the support and oversight of Frances Beatty, Vice-President of Richard L. Feigen & Co. and Director of the Ray Johnson Estate, spent six years probing the mysteries of Johnson’s life and art. Their collaboration yielded the award-winning documentary, How To Draw a Bunny, released in 2003. How To Draw a Bunny examines Johnson’s life, art, his ambivalent attitude towards fame, and finally his mysterious death. The film includes interviews with artists Chuck Close, James Rosenquist, Billy Name, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, and the founder of The Living Theatre, Judith Malina, among many others.” (Source)

I have watched the documentation How To Draw a Bunny  – on Vimeo completely callable, unfortunately only in English without German subtitles – nevertheless absolutely worth seeing. This film is, besides the homepage of Ray Johnson Estate, my second recommendation.

“Ray Johnson’s works are still largely unknown to a larger audience, but within the contemporary art scene he has the status of a legendary outsider. (Source)

(Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator – unpaid advertisement)

Incoming Mail Art form Petra Lorenz (D)

INcoming Mai 2019 Petra Lorenz 1
INcoming Mai 2019 Petra Lorenz 2
INcoming Mai 2019 Petra Lorenz 3
INcoming Mai 2019 Petra Lorenz 4
INcoming Mai 2019 Petra Lorenz 5

INcoming Mai 2019 Petra Lorenz 1

INcoming Mai 2019 Petra Lorenz 2

INcoming Mai 2019 Petra Lorenz 3

INcoming Mai 2019 Petra Lorenz 4

INcoming Mai 2019 Petra Lorenz 5

INcoming Mai 2019 Petra Lorenz 1 thumbnail
INcoming Mai 2019 Petra Lorenz 2 thumbnail
INcoming Mai 2019 Petra Lorenz 3 thumbnail
INcoming Mai 2019 Petra Lorenz 4 thumbnail
INcoming Mai 2019 Petra Lorenz 5 thumbnail

Lucky me – I received wonderful Mail Art from Petra Lorenz: An original collage, Mail Art Jewelery and a golden scissors. Can’t believe! Lucky me. Thank you so much Petra!!!

Ich Glückspilz: Ich habe ganz tolle Mail Art von Petra Lorenz bekommen: Eine Original Collage, Mail Art Schmuck und eine goldene Schere. Ich kann es kaum fassen! Viiiiiielen Dank Petra!

A wonderful present from Mister Feng Jie (CHN)

Present from Brise Gallery Mister Feng Jie - 1
Present  from Brise Gallery Mister Feng Jie - 3
Present  from Brise Gallery Mister Feng Jie - 4
Present  from Brise Gallery Mister Feng Jie - 5
Present from Brise Gallery Mister Feng Jie - 6
Present  from Brise Gallery Mister Feng Jie - 7
Present  from Brise Gallery Mister Feng Jie - 8
Present from Brise Gallery Mister Feng Jie - 9
Present from Brise Gallery Mister Feng Jie - 10
Present from Brise Gallery Mister Feng Jie - 11
Present from Brise Gallery Mister Feng Jie - 12

Present from Brise Gallery Mister Feng Jie - 1

Present from Brise Gallery Mister Feng Jie - 3

Present from Brise Gallery Mister Feng Jie - 4

Present from Brise Gallery Mister Feng Jie - 5

Present from Brise Gallery Mister Feng Jie - 6

Present from Brise Gallery Mister Feng Jie - 7

Present from Brise Gallery Mister Feng Jie - 8

Present from Brise Gallery Mister Feng Jie - 9

Present from Brise Gallery Mister Feng Jie - 10

Present from Brise Gallery Mister Feng Jie - 11

Present from Brise Gallery Mister Feng Jie - 12

Present from Brise Gallery Mister Feng Jie - 1 thumbnail
Present  from Brise Gallery Mister Feng Jie - 3 thumbnail
Present  from Brise Gallery Mister Feng Jie - 4 thumbnail
Present  from Brise Gallery Mister Feng Jie - 5 thumbnail
Present from Brise Gallery Mister Feng Jie - 6 thumbnail
Present  from Brise Gallery Mister Feng Jie - 7 thumbnail
Present  from Brise Gallery Mister Feng Jie - 8 thumbnail
Present from Brise Gallery Mister Feng Jie - 9 thumbnail
Present from Brise Gallery Mister Feng Jie - 10 thumbnail
Present from Brise Gallery Mister Feng Jie - 11 thumbnail
Present from Brise Gallery Mister Feng Jie - 12 thumbnail

What a wonderful present I got from Brise Gallery from Mister Feng Jie – China!
I am totally thrilled by these posters with vintage images of Chinese women
(each 79 x 50 cm / 27,5 x 19,6 inches)
Almost too beautiful to cut them up.

Was für ein wunderbares Geschenk habe ich von der Brise Gallery von Herrn Feng Jie – China bekommen!
Ich bin total begeistert von diesen Postern mit Vintage-Bildern von chinesischen Frauen.
(je 79 x 50 cm / 27,5 x 19,6 Zoll)
Fast zu schön, um sie zu zerschneiden.

Incoming Mail Art from Nimfa (PHL)

Incoming Nimfa May 2019
Incoming Nimfa May 2019 - 3
Incoming Nimfa May 2019 - 2
Incoming Nimfa May 2019 - 1

Incoming Nimfa May 2019

Incoming Nimfa May 2019 - 3

Incoming Nimfa May 2019 - 2

Incoming Nimfa May 2019 - 1

Incoming Nimfa May 2019 thumbnail
Incoming Nimfa May 2019 - 3 thumbnail
Incoming Nimfa May 2019 - 2 thumbnail
Incoming Nimfa May 2019 - 1 thumbnail

Nimfa M Ursabia hat mir, im Tausch für mein Faltbuch, diese Kostbarkeiten zugeschickt: Eine von ihr gestaltete Streichholzschachtel und zwei weitere Originalarbeiten. Wunderschön! Vielen Dank dafür!

Nimfa M Ursabia sent me these treasures in exchange for my folding book: A matchbox designed by her and two other original works. Beautiful! Many thanks for that!

Incoming Mail art from Stefan Heuer (D)

Incoming Stefan Heuer April 2019
Incoming Stefan Heuer April 2019 - Booklet with collaborative works by Stefan and Geronimo Finn
Incoming Stefan Heuer April 2019 - Booklet with collaborative works by Stefan and Geronimo Finn
Incoming Stefan Heuer April 2019 - Booklet with collaborative works by Stefan and Geronimo Finn
Incoming Stefan Heuer April 2019 - Booklet with collaborative works by Stefan and Geronimo Finn
Incoming Stefan Heuer April 2019 - Lyric book with collages by Stefan Heuer
Incoming Stefan Heuer April 2019 - Lyric book with collages by Stefan Heuer

Incoming Stefan Heuer April 2019

Incoming Stefan Heuer April 2019 - Booklet with collaborative works by Stefan and Geronimo Finn

Incoming Stefan Heuer April 2019 - Booklet with collaborative works by Stefan and Geronimo Finn

Incoming Stefan Heuer April 2019 - Booklet with collaborative works by Stefan and Geronimo Finn

Incoming Stefan Heuer April 2019 - Booklet with collaborative works by Stefan and Geronimo Finn

Incoming Stefan Heuer April 2019 - Lyric book with collages by Stefan Heuer

Incoming Stefan Heuer April 2019 - Lyric book with collages by Stefan Heuer

Incoming Stefan Heuer April 2019 thumbnail
Incoming Stefan Heuer April 2019 - Booklet with collaborative works by Stefan and Geronimo Finn thumbnail
Incoming Stefan Heuer April 2019 - Booklet with collaborative works by Stefan and Geronimo Finn thumbnail
Incoming Stefan Heuer April 2019 - Booklet with collaborative works by Stefan and Geronimo Finn thumbnail
Incoming Stefan Heuer April 2019 - Booklet with collaborative works by Stefan and Geronimo Finn thumbnail
Incoming Stefan Heuer April 2019 - Lyric book with collages by Stefan Heuer thumbnail
Incoming Stefan Heuer April 2019 - Lyric book with collages by Stefan Heuer thumbnail

Stefan Heuer hat mir, im Tausch für mein Faltbuch, diese zwei Kostbarkeiten zugeschickt: Ein Heft mit einer Kollaboration zwischen ihm und Geronimo Finn und ein Lyrik-Buch, das er mit seinen Collagen illustriert hat. Vielen Dank dafür!

Stefan Heuer sent me these two treasures in exchange for my folding book: A booklet with a collaboration between him and Geronimo Finn and a poetry book, which he illustrated with his collages. Many thanks for that!

Incoming Mail Art from Ria Bauwens (BEL)

Incoming Mail Art from Ria Bauwens aka Frips aka necessityofnonsense - 3
Incoming Mail Art from Ria Bauwens aka Frips aka necessityofnonsense - 5
Incoming Mail Art from Ria Bauwens aka Frips aka necessityofnonsense - 7
Incoming Mail Art from Ria Bauwens aka Frips aka necessityofnonsense - 4
Incoming Mail Art from Ria Bauwens aka Frips aka necessityofnonsense - 8
Incoming Mail Art from Ria Bauwens aka Frips aka necessityofnonsense - 1

Incoming Mail Art from Ria Bauwens aka Frips aka necessityofnonsense - 3

Incoming Mail Art from Ria Bauwens aka Frips aka necessityofnonsense - 5

Incoming Mail Art from Ria Bauwens aka Frips aka necessityofnonsense - 7

Incoming Mail Art from Ria Bauwens aka Frips aka necessityofnonsense - 4

Incoming Mail Art from Ria Bauwens aka Frips aka necessityofnonsense - 8

Incoming Mail Art from Ria Bauwens aka Frips aka necessityofnonsense - 1

Incoming Mail Art from Ria Bauwens aka Frips aka necessityofnonsense - 3 thumbnail
Incoming Mail Art from Ria Bauwens aka Frips aka necessityofnonsense - 5 thumbnail
Incoming Mail Art from Ria Bauwens aka Frips aka necessityofnonsense - 7 thumbnail
Incoming Mail Art from Ria Bauwens aka Frips aka necessityofnonsense - 4 thumbnail
Incoming Mail Art from Ria Bauwens aka Frips aka necessityofnonsense - 8 thumbnail
Incoming Mail Art from Ria Bauwens aka Frips aka necessityofnonsense - 1 thumbnail

Incoming Mail Art from Ria Bauwens aka Frips aka Necessity of nonsense.
Thank you very much Ria! This is great!

Eingehende Mail Art von Ria Bauwens aka Frips aka Necessity of nonsense.
Vielen Dank, Ria – das ist großartig!

 

Incoming Mail Art from Gina Ulgen (UK)

Incoming Mail Art from Gina Ulgen April 2019 - 1
Incoming Mail Art from Gina Ulgen April 2019 - 7
Incoming Mail Art from Gina Ulgen April 2019 - 11
Incoming Mail Art from Gina Ulgen April 2019 - 10
Incoming Mail Art from Gina Ulgen April 2019 - 9
Incoming Mail Art from Gina Ulgen April 2019 - 8
Incoming Mail Art from Gina Ulgen April 2019 - 3
Incoming Mail Art from Gina Ulgen April 2019 - 5
Incoming Mail Art from Gina Ulgen April 2019 - 4
Incoming Mail Art from Gina Ulgen April 2019 - 6

Incoming Mail Art from Gina Ulgen April 2019 - 1

Incoming Mail Art from Gina Ulgen April 2019 - 7

Incoming Mail Art from Gina Ulgen April 2019 - 11

Incoming Mail Art from Gina Ulgen April 2019 - 10

Incoming Mail Art from Gina Ulgen April 2019 - 9

Incoming Mail Art from Gina Ulgen April 2019 - 8

Incoming Mail Art from Gina Ulgen April 2019 - 3

Incoming Mail Art from Gina Ulgen April 2019 - 5

Incoming Mail Art from Gina Ulgen April 2019 - 4

Incoming Mail Art from Gina Ulgen April 2019 - 6

Incoming Mail Art from Gina Ulgen April 2019 - 1 thumbnail
Incoming Mail Art from Gina Ulgen April 2019 - 7 thumbnail
Incoming Mail Art from Gina Ulgen April 2019 - 11 thumbnail
Incoming Mail Art from Gina Ulgen April 2019 - 10 thumbnail
Incoming Mail Art from Gina Ulgen April 2019 - 9 thumbnail
Incoming Mail Art from Gina Ulgen April 2019 - 8 thumbnail
Incoming Mail Art from Gina Ulgen April 2019 - 3 thumbnail
Incoming Mail Art from Gina Ulgen April 2019 - 5 thumbnail
Incoming Mail Art from Gina Ulgen April 2019 - 4 thumbnail
Incoming Mail Art from Gina Ulgen April 2019 - 6 thumbnail

Incoming Mail Art from Gina Ulgen - what a wonderful mail I got! A “Fishy Encounter” zine with a Fortune Teller Miracle Fish, some original collages, postcards and a catalog from a Dorothea Tanning exhibition. How cool. Thank you so much, Gina!

Eingehende Mail Art von Gina Ulgen - und was für wunderbare Post habe ich bekommen! Ein “Fischbegegnung”s-Magazin mit einem Wahrsager-Wunderfisch, einigen originellen und Original-Collagen, Postkarten und einem Katalog von einer Dorothea Tanning Ausstellung. Wie cool. Vielen Dank Gina!

Incoming Mail Art from Terry Garett (USA)

Incoming Mail Art April 2019 Terry Garrett - 1
Incoming Mail Art April 2019 Terry Garrett - 3
Incoming Mail Art April 2019 Terry Garrett - 4
Incoming Mail Art April 2019 Terry Garrett - 5
Incoming Mail Art April 2019 Terry Garrett - 6
Incoming Mail Art April 2019 Terry Garrett - 7

Incoming Mail Art April 2019 Terry Garrett - 1

Incoming Mail Art April 2019 Terry Garrett - 3

Incoming Mail Art April 2019 Terry Garrett - 4

Incoming Mail Art April 2019 Terry Garrett - 5

Incoming Mail Art April 2019 Terry Garrett - 6

Incoming Mail Art April 2019 Terry Garrett - 7

Incoming Mail Art April 2019 Terry Garrett - 1 thumbnail
Incoming Mail Art April 2019 Terry Garrett - 3 thumbnail
Incoming Mail Art April 2019 Terry Garrett - 4 thumbnail
Incoming Mail Art April 2019 Terry Garrett - 5 thumbnail
Incoming Mail Art April 2019 Terry Garrett - 6 thumbnail
Incoming Mail Art April 2019 Terry Garrett - 7 thumbnail

Incoming Mail Art from Terry Garrett – we exchanged for the first time – what a wonderful mail I got! A beautiful Bird House and a zine with wonderful quotes and collages inside. Thank you so much, Terry!

Eingehende Mail Art von Terry Garrett - wir haben zum ersten Mal Mail Art ausgetauscht – und was für wunderbare Post habe ich bekommen! Ein wunderschönes Vogelhaus und ein Magazine  mit tollen Zitaten und wundervollen Collagen. Vielen Dank Terry!