Ray Johnson: The Paper Snake

ISBN 13: 9781938221033

Ray Johnson: The Paper Snake

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9781938221033: Ray Johnson: The Paper Snake
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Long out of print and unavailable to wider audiences, The Paper Snake is an essential work in Ray Johnson’s oeuvre and the second title published by Dick Higgins’ Something Else Press, in 1965. Johnson describes the book as "all my writings, rubbings, plays, things that I had mailed to [Higgins] or brought to him in cardboard boxes or shoved under his door, or left in his sink, or whatever, over a period of years." A vertiginous, mind-bending artist’s book, The Paper Snake was far ahead of its time. In his essay "The Hatching of the Paper Snake," Higgins says: "I was fascinated by the way that the small works which Ray Johnson used to send through the mail seemed so rooted in their moment and their context and yet somehow they seemed to acquire new and larger meaning as time went along ... Since a book is a more permanent body than a mailing piece or even than our own physical ones, I could not help wondering what it would be like to make a new body for Johnson’s ideas as a sort of love letter or time capsule for the future." A collection of letters, little plays, tid-bits, collages and drawings, The Paper Snake connects disparate elements to unbed fixed relationships and forge new systems of meaning by means of scissors, paste and the American postal system.

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Three Ray Johnson solo exhibitions (at the MoMA Library, at Karma on Great Jones Street, and at Richard L. Feigen & Co. on the Upper East Side) will follow the publication of The Paper Snake, an artist’s book first printed in 1965. (Mark Guiducci Vogue.com)

Although artist Ray Johnson created plenty of conventional art objects ― mostly quixotic, irreverent collages ― his most sustained efforts took the form of letters, sent to hundreds of recipients, including such art stars as Andy Warhol, Yoko Ono and John Cage. Throughout his 40-year career, he zealously monitored the membership of his own artistic movement, the New York Correspondance School (misspelling and double or triple innuendoes intentional). And although he detested the term ― or any label, for that matter ― he was a leading practitioner of mail art, in which language and the letter opened onto endless chains of meaning. Selections from this prodigious output are lovingly documented in two new titles from Siglio Press. (Sharon Mizota Los Angeles Times)

Both The Paper Snake, a facsimile of the Fluxus artist Dick Higgins's inventive 1965 assemblage of ephemera received from Johnson, and Not Nothing, a generous and beautifully produced selection of the artist's "mail art" and related writings, testify to a preoccupation with language that allies Johnson to the Black Mountain poets, especially Robert Creeley. . . . But is is Mail Art, with its strong ties to Conceptualism, that makes Johnson, its founding father, so interesting to a current generation of poets. . . (Marjorie Perloff Times Literary Supplement)

The participation of three poets in bringing Johnson’s word-works into print is not coincidental, and while Not Nothing will make absorbing reading for those interested in mail art, Fluxus, Pop, Conceptualism, the legacies of Dada and Surrealism, the reception of Duchamp, or the downtown New York scene in the years spanned by Zuba’s selection, the two books will likewise be a pleasure for anyone beguiled by language-and-image as a field of play. For, while the increased availability of Johnson’s letters, notes, and statements subtilizes our understanding of this legendarily well-connected yet enigmatic artist, his flattened logorrheia is also just fun to read. (Frances Richard Hyperallergic)

Looking at the drawings and notes that make up this reissued artist book, one yearns to claim Ray Johnson, the founder of the mail art movement, as a correspondent in this e-mail–benighted age. The project consists of the letters Johnson, who died in 1995, sent to his friend, the poet and Fluxus artist Dick Higgins, and is part of his movement, in which small works are sent through the post, creating a system of sharing work outside museums and galleries. By turns humorous, clever, and paranoid (“Dorothy Podber is going to put 183 agents in your apartment,” reads one scrap), the book grants readers highly personal access to Johnson’s unique mind. (Zoë Lescaze ARTnews)

From our current vantage, it’s not hard to acknowledge that one of the presiding spirits of early-twenty-first-century art is Ray Johnson’s. Collagist, painter, poet, and the originator of mail art, Johnson took up the appropriative strategies of Marcel Duchamp and Jasper Johns, infused them with John Cage’s ideas about Zen and chance, and energized the mix with his own brand of deadpan Conceptualism. . . . The republication of his artist’s book The Paper Snake and the selection from his voluminous letters in Not Nothing are an opportunity to sample one of the most subversively witty intelligences to paste, draw, and type in the last half century. (Alberto Mobilio Bookforum)

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Published by Siglio Press, United States (2014)
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Book Description Siglio Press, United States, 2014. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. Long out of print and unavailable to wider audiences, The Paper Snake is an essential work in Ray Johnson's oeuvre and the second title published by Dick Higgins' Something Else Press, in 1965. Johnson describes the book as "all my writings, rubbings, plays, things that I had mailed to [Higgins] or brought to him in cardboard boxes or shoved under his door, or left in his sink, or whatever, over a period of years." A vertiginous, mind-bending artist's book, The Paper Snake was far ahead of its time. In his essay "The Hatching of the Paper Snake," Higgins says: "I was fascinated by the way that the small works which Ray Johnson used to send through the mail seemed so rooted in their moment and their context and yet somehow they seemed to acquire new and larger meaning as time went along . Since a book is a more permanent body than a mailing piece or even than our own physical ones, I could not help wondering what it would be like to make a new body for Johnson's ideas as a sort of love letter or time capsule for the future." A collection of letters, little plays, tid-bits, collages and drawings, The Paper Snake connects disparate elements to unbed fixed relationships and forge new systems of meaning by means of scissors, paste and the American postal system. Seller Inventory # BZE9781938221033

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Book Description Siglio, 2014. Hardcover. Condition: New. y First printing. Ships with Tracking Number! INTERNATIONAL WORLDWIDE Shipping available. Buy with confidence, excellent customer service!. Seller Inventory # 1938221036n

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