Monday, January 02, 2006

First you draw a Circle

Just finished watching the movie, How to draw a Bunny, a documentary of artist Ray Johnson. What a terrific movie. It is an absolutely fascinating portrayal of this elusive man. Almost like watching a trainwreck in a certain way as I couldn't take my eyes off the screen, especially the footage of Johnson himself.

He is gone now, having committed suicide in a 1995 drowning incident that appears to have been his last event, possibly carefully planned and orchestrated. In death he has become famous and is remembered for many things -his collage works, the beginnings of Mail Art, the performances, his "nothings" and of course his bunny head drawings. Here is a link to an excellent summary of his life:

I found the movie thought provoking, a must-see for other artists. I'd like to say that I "get" what Ray was trying to do but it's hard to get. And of course that sounds so banal. Plus I think such a comment only tends to demean Ray's influence. I doubt anyone really gets his work the way he intended. And maybe that's the point? He was undefined in life and remains so in death.

What I do get is his passion and commitment. He had a purity of approach than lingers in my mind and, as an artist I felt a gut level connection. I want to see more of his art, better pictures than what I saw in the film; the collages inspire me. I think I need this book.

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