February 19th - June 12th, 2010

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Oedipus (Elvis 1), Ray Johnson

"Johnson’s collages from the mid to late 1950s at first seem to diverge from the shapes, grids and experiments with color by Johnson in his early works. The 1956-57 collage Elvis Presley #1 might seem like a complete departure from Albers with its incorporation of a pop culture icon and the emotional impact it offers through its use of red and lines below the eyes suggests blood but also tears. Irregular shapes fill a space in front of Presley’s mouth, conveying the ambiguity of the words and meanings that Presley sings. While the previous influences of Albers may seem to recede, this collage activates Albers’s belief, as Frederick Horowitz has discussed, that “art happens (or at least begins to happen) when the viewer ‘reads’ something at variance with what’s actually there: something more.” With this thoughtful pairing Johnson gestures towards the ambiguity of Presley’s songs as well as the multiple ways in which they can be interpreted by listeners."
from an essay by Julie J. Thomson
(Work from the Collection of William S. Wilson)