PRINT April 1995

Brother Ray

RAY JOHNSON NEVER ACHIEVED the popular success of many of his friends, certainly unjustly. But his career is documented in the cold comfort of several publications on his hermetic and obsessive collages, and on his role in the larger developments of Pop art. Also, through the broad network of the mailings of his New York Correspondence School, he became a household name in the art world, a celebrity, as it were, franked in inverse proportion to market, that real-life stress about which Ray (not to say artists in general) felt acute ambivalence.

The taproot nourishing Ray’s idiosyncratic and mercurial work is Joseph Cornell more than it is the oft-argued fraternity with Andy Warhol & Co. His collages are beautiful and authoritative in a way free of period theoretical buttressing. More’s the pity that this simple formula wasn’t applied to his work when it was being shown regularly during the

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