Raven Row’s inaugural exhibition was the first large UK show of the collages and mailings of New York artist Ray Johnson (1927–1995). Works in the exhibition can be viewed in the image galleries on the right.
Johnson used radical means to construct and distribute images, inadvertently inventing the ‘mail art movement’. He made art out of social life – both real and imagined – gathering celebrities, the art world, and friends into his work. His influence on twentieth century art far exceeds the recognition he receives.
Significantly, the exhibition ‘Ray Johnson. Please Add to & Return’, represented Johnson’s mailings – objects he regarded as gifts and thus contrary to the market – equally with the collage works he made for gallery exhibition in the sixties and seventies. Also included were the collages he subjected to a seemingly endless process of reworking and overlaying, which were found signed with multiple dates and neatly arranged in his house at the time of his death.
This exhibition would not have been possible without the generous participation of the Estate of Ray Johnson at Richard L. Feigen & Co. and William S. Wilson.