Ray Johnson 1985 Mail Art Throwaway Gesture, Andy Warhol's Hand + Ladyfingers for Terry Kistler

Regular price $0.00

I was pretty excited to find this one in a box of ephemera at the flea market this weekend, which I believe came from the estate of an artist (there was a huge box of paintings from the same estate that were scooped up before I was able to take a look.) It is definitively the work of the brilliant and elusive artist Ray Johnson--an example of his prolific mail art practice, which included distributing xeroxed pieces like this one which others were meant to alter and send back to him, which obviously never happened in this case. On many of these he used the phrase "a throwaway gesture," in this case in honor of the poet William ("Terry") Kistler, who, at the time this was made, was president of the non-profit Poets and Writers, which produced Poets and Writers magazine.

On the front side is an outline of "Andy Warhol's Hand," which I assume it actually was, as the two were close longtime friends, since the mid 1950s or so, and according to Billy Name, it was Johnson who brought Warhol to Name's silver painted and silver foiled studio, which inspired the creation of Warhols Silver Factory. A later iconic collage piece by Johnson would combine a photograph of Johnson with a copy of a detail from one of Warhol’s Dance Diagram canvases. I have found one reference to this piece featuring the outline of Warhol’s hand: in a Hyperallergic review of a 2015 exhibition at Richard L. Feigen & Co titled Please Return to: Mail Art from the Ray Johnson Archive, which featured this piece in altered and returned form.  

I've only found a couple other examples of un-altered Xerox mail art pieces out there, including one from 1984 currently for sale through Printed Matter for $450. I think this one is especially interesting for it's double-sidedness, with the "ladyfingers" for Kistler showing through the paper inside of the outline of Warhol's hand, and for the connection with Warhol generally, of which much has been made and speculated.

 11" x 8 9/16", printed on copy paper, with two horizontal fold lines and a few scattered stains as documented; overall very good condition.