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PRINT April 1995

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Mailman

I FIRST MET RAY JOHNSON when we coincidentally visited Andy Warhol at the same time, perhaps in late 1962. We sat on a sofa in Andy’s town house, politely commented on the new silk-screened canvases that he unrolled on the floor for our inspection, and stealthily eyed one another. I couldn’t help but notice that Ray had a mischievous glint in his eyes and a sly smile that would suddenly slide into a toothy and rather menacing grin. This somehow sparked my infatuation with him, which bloomed over the next several years.

Ray’s public persona, fabricated like Andy’s with tremendous cunning, required an absence of any useful information. When he designed a cover for the November 1947 issue of Interiors, the contributors’ page carried this editorial note: “Ray Johnson, the most modest of our cover artists, is, we guess, well under twenty. He refuses to give us any information about himself

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