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Ray Johnson: The Dover Street Years, 1953-1960

The Hessel Museum of Art
Annandale-on Hudson Road, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, 845 758 7598
Tri-State Area
March 18 - April 15, 2012
Reception: Sunday, March 18, 1 - 4 PM
Web Site

It isn’t really necessary to see the moticos or know where it is because i have seen them. Perhaps i might point them out to you. The best way is to go about your business not thinking about silly moticos because when you begin seeing them describing what they are or where they are going is so just make sure you wake up from sleeping and go your way and go to sleep when you will. The moticos does that too and does not worry about you perhaps you are the moticos. – Ray Johnson, “What is a Moticos”

Moving to New York City in 1948 after attending Black Mountain College in North Carolina, Ray Johnson (American, 1927-1995) found himself at the epicenter of Abstract Expressionism’s core decade (1945-1955). Living and working in a neighborhood known as Coenties Slip, Johnson found community among like-minded individuals such as John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Morton Feldman, Agnes Martin, Ellsworth Kelly, and Ad Reinhardt. In conversation with them, he began to turn away from traditional modernist models and explore alternatives through the physical manipulation of materials. Prior to the advent of his New York Correspondance School and related mail art activities for which he is best known, Johnson produced a large body of experimental work through which he tested the boundaries of modernism. Termed “moticos” by Johnson himself, these works have been rarely seen, generally overlooked, and quite frankly, misunderstood.

Bringing together nearly 40 works, this exhibition traces Johnson’s career during the time he lived and worked at 2 Dover Street in Lower Manhattan, 1953-1960. Highlighted in the exhibition are examples of his graphic design work including dust jackets for New Directions, LP cover art, and window displays, and photographs by Ad Reinhardt and Elizabeth Novick of early moticos displayed outdoors. No exhibition to date has focused exclusively on this period of Ray Johnson’s work, many works in the exhibition have never been seen before.

The exhibition is organized by Anastasia Rygle, Curator as part of the requirement for the Master of Arts degree.
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