Cupid predating detroit
Through the New York Correspondence School—founded in 1962 and occasionally spelled Correspondance—Johnson mailed thousands of small works of art all over the world, gratis.The school was not really a school; it was a steady stream of letters sent out by Johnson, and no piece was alike: magazine clippings, photos, cut-up pieces of older collages.It’s art inside art inside art.” Beatty strides over to a different piece, Untitled (Superman Bunny with Blimp, “LONG DONG SILVER”). “He signed many of his letters with a cartoon bunny, you know.And here,” she points to a series of black blobs that grow increasingly defined as they march up the left side of the collage, “you can see the evolution, or devolution, of some sort of super bunny.” In the top left corner of the collage is the fully defined super bunny: a black silhouette, no facial features, just broad shoulders, muscled arms, and bunny ears.An Erotic Error, Moticos, New York’s Most Famous Unknown Artist, A Difficult Object of Study, The Bunny Motif, Richard Lippold’s Dry Cleaning, Minnows (Or Maybe Sperm), Worn-Out Shoes, A Long-Buried Urgesays William Wilson of mail artist Ray Johnson.Wilson kept this tacit promise over decades of close friendship, during which Johnson—who rarely mentioned his own family—came to Christmas dinners, celebrated the birthdays of Wilson’s twin daughters, and became close friends with Wilson’s mom, feminist assemblage artist May Wilson.
“And here, these are pieces of earlier collages, cut up to look like books, so he’s referencing a staple of still life—to show a person’s identity by showing the things in their room—but also literally showing us the things in Ray’s room by using the pieces of old collages that were probably sitting around his apartment.Researchers are encouraged to make appointments, and on any given day there may be an art-history major from NYU, a poet from Hunter College, and a mail-art enthusiast who’s come all the way from Berlin to study the man known as the founding father of mail art, all either poring through endless binders full of Johnson’s letters or standing contemplatively in front of one of the many framed collages.In 1965, the New York Times called Johnson “New York’s most famous unknown artist.” Half a century later, and more than a decade after his death, he retains this cult status.“Look at this one; that reference to ‘Itsy-Bitsy Teenie-Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.’” Beatty points to the exact phrase in Untitled (Cupid with “Marianne Moore’s Hat”). You could write a whole book with the meanings in just one collage.” Shortly thereafter, Beatty excuses herself to get a coffee and the other employees disperse.Other employees of Feigen gallery—a clutch of young research assistants and receptionists—have slowly gathered around, their footsteps silent on the carpet, hoping to scoop up some of Beatty’s pearls of wisdom. “‘She was afraid to come out of the locker…’ Don’t you see? This is my second visit, and I have a whole day and unlimited access to Johnson’s work—an overwhelming offer, considering his output.
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There was always text: a poem, an invite to a real or fake event, a fake fan-club mailer, a pop-culture-laced joke, or even something innocuous such as “I am as fine as all get out.