Ray Johnson

Dear Raphael Rubinstein at Art in America
Mail art + Ephemera: from Ray Johnson 

December 1995
8.5 x 11 inches
Photo-copied letters with crossing out of images, writing and correspondence

< Artists + Writers

Ray Johnson (1927-1995)

“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