Queer Networks

Queer Networks

Ray Johnson's Correspondence Art

Miriam Kienle

How the queer correspondence art of Ray Johnson disrupted art world conventions and anticipated today’s highly networked culture

296 Pages, 7 x 9 in

  • Paperback
  • 9781517911638
  • Published: November 28, 2023
BUY
  • eBook
  • 9781452970271
  • Published: November 28, 2023
BUY
  • Hardcover
  • 9781517911621
  • Published: November 28, 2023
BUY

Details

Queer Networks

Ray Johnson's Correspondence Art

Miriam Kienle

ISBN: 9781517911638

Publication date: November 28th, 2023

296 Pages

108 black and white illustrations

9 x 7

"In this brilliant and revelatory book, Miriam Kienle provides a sophisticated reevaluation of one of the twentieth century’s most prescient artists, Ray Johnson. She conclusively demonstrates that Johnson’s work existed in, and interacted with, an intricate web of theoretical, sexual, political, and aesthetic concerns, most of which have never been broached in previous work on the artist. The result is a crucial contribution to thinking about Johnson, postwar culture, and queer politics and aesthetics."—Anthony Grudin, author of Warhol's Working Class: Pop Art and Egalitarianism and Like a Little Dog: Andy Warhol's Queer Ecologies

 

"Miriam Kienle’s detailed study of Ray Johnson’s correspondence art is intimate and focused yet expansive—much like Johnson’s work itself. Finally, we have a book-length, deeply researched account of Johnson’s queer ways of making and communicating. Queer Networks establishes Johnson as an inescapably centrifugal figure for the history of queer art in the 1960s and 1970s, and it argues for the wider potential of Johnson’s practice of rampant recontextualization as a cipher for the social and information networks at play in postwar American culture."—David J. Getsy, author of Queer Behavior: Scott Burton and Performance Art

 

"Kienle analyzes in diligent detail the intriguing and sometimes bizarre ways in which Johnson used his marginal status to ‘prank the art world from its periphery.’ This opens a revealing new lens on an enigmatic art world figure."—Publishers Weekly

 

 


How the queer correspondence art of Ray Johnson disrupted art world conventions and anticipated today’s highly networked culture


Once regarded as “New York’s most famous unknown artist,” Ray Johnson was a highly visible outlier in the art world, his mail art practice reflecting the changing social relations and politics of queer communities in the 1960s. A vital contribution to the growing scholarship on this enigmatic artist, Queer Networks analyzes how Johnson’s practice sought to undermine the dominant mechanisms of the art market and gallery system in favor of unconventional social connections.

 

Utilizing the postal service as his primary means of producing and circulating art, Johnson cultivated an international community of friends and collaborators through which he advanced his idiosyncratic body of work. Applying both queer theory and network studies, Miriam Kienle explores how Johnson’s radical correspondence art established new modes of connectivity that fostered queer sensibilities and ran counter to the conventional methods by which artists were expected to develop their reputation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

While Johnson was significantly involved with the Pop, conceptual, and neo-Dada art movements, Queer Networks crucially underscores his resistance to traditional art historical systems of categorization and their emphasis on individual mastery. Highlighting his alternative modes of community building and playful antagonism toward art world protocols, Kienle demonstrates how Ray Johnson’s correspondence art offers new ways of envisioning togetherness in today’s highly commodified and deeply networked world.

Miriam Kienle is associate professor of art history in the School of Art and Visual Studies at the University of Kentucky.

Contents

Introduction: Please Send To

1. Singular and Plural: Postal Network as Heterotopia

2. Unsettling Networks: The Queer Connectivity of the New York Correspondence School

3. Counterpublicity: The “Exploits and Escapades” of the Robin Gallery

4. Facing Others: Portrait of a Curator as a Network

Conclusion: Ray Johnson’s Dead Letter

Acknowledgments

Notes

Index