The Beauty of Artistic Correspondence Through Collage: Ray Johnson and William S. Wilson

1960s: Days of Rage

Ray Johnson’s Silhouette Profiles

“Paul Valéry once described poetry as ‘abrupt returns of the fruit to the wild state.’ That description can also be applied to artist Ray Johnson—both the man and art. One of the most quietly consequential figures in American contemporary art, Johnson’s visionary perception and extraordinary faculty resulted in an immense body of work that spans collage, correspondence, performance, painting, sculpture and book arts. Johnson’s poetic syllabary parses no difference between text and image, and his lyric is hewed from peripheral correlation and permutation; the result is breath-taking collisions that approximate the wilds of human experience. ‘Wild’ also perfectly captures Johnson’s puckish temperament and exacting mind. Stories of his singular attention and lightspeed wit are legendary. Keeping a pace with Johnson’s protean lens on the world was a feat reserved for only a few very close and similarly natured friends. The writer William S. (Bill) Wilson was one…

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