Raw and Very Punk: Ray Johnson

Jan 23, 2015 5:11PM
Featured image is reproduced from Ray JohnsonKarma's indispensible, copiously illustrated and beautifully designed book on the influential artist who heralded Pop, Conceptual and mail art and took his own life as his final artwork in 1995. In a major New York Times feature this weekend, Randy Kennedy quotes Karma's Brendan Dugan, who organized an exhibition of Johnson's late work in the fall: "'He kind of landed by default in the book and ephemera world, and to a large extent that's really where his work has been living." Mr. Dugan said he had been drawn to Mr. Johnson in part because of his avid following among younger, punk-influenced artists but also those whose work seems to have little affinity with Mr. Johnson's… For the show at Karma, Mr. Dugan was allowed to pore over reams of paper works in the L. Feigen & Co. archive, made by Mr. Johnson mostly in the last decade of his life, 'and what I saw was a total discovery to me, because a lot of it was very raw and very punk,' he said. 'Here was this guy in his 60s, and he's still up to it, to the very end, pulling in new material from the culture and making this very weird stuff that feels very contemporary now.'"
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Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019