New York

Ray Johnson

Richard L. Feigen & Co

THE MONIKER HAS STUCK since Grace Glueck coined it in 1965, but Ray Johnson's days as “New York's most famous unknown artist” are numbered. In the six years since his death, the reclusive collagist has been the subject of a traveling retrospective and featured in two exhibitions devoted to postwar experimentalism, “Beat Culture and the New America” at the Whitney and “Hall of Mirrors: Art and Film Since 1945” at LA MoCA. This recent show at Feigen presented eighty-eight pieces from Johnson's estate, many never before seen by the public.

The sheer volume of good work is noteworthy. But even more pertinent is the gradual revelation of Johnson as a microcosmic clearinghouse for a dizzying range of visual, verbal, and historical detail. If an idea was important to avant-garde or Pop sensibilities in the last forty years, Johnson probably drew from it, if he didn't help create it in the first

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the Summer 2001 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.