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The story of the life of artist Ray Johnson is cloaked in mystery not only at the moment of his death, but also throughout a career that was difficult to know and to understand. As one of the seminal figures in the Pop Art era, Johnson is known as the founding father of mail art and as a collagist extraordinaire. But, overshadowed by those like Warhol who manipulated that world in a very dissimilar manner, he was also a reclusive and sometimes enigmatic figure who has been called New York's most famous unknown artist, but who challenged the commercial and critical establishment. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Although I am an artist, I hadn't ever even heard of Ray Johnson until I stumbled upon this movie on the Sundance Channel. What a treat. It's interviews with people who "knew" Johnson - I don't think anybody really knew him.
He was very eccentric, e.g., if he was mad at you and you called him, he'd put the phone down without hanging up and go about his business - the caller could hear him moving around in the background. After some time - always varying - he'd pick up the phone, say "hello" and things would go on as if nothing had ever happened.
He really invented "mail art", sending collages to friends. He made up cost lists for his paintings, offering reductions if he cut part of the drawing/painting out.
I loved this film.
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