Ray Johnson with "One Way"

In this photograph, which Johnson mailed to a friend, he poses in his studio in New York City, where he moved after completing his studies at Black Mountain College. During his early years in the city, Johnson focused on abstract painting. In the mid-1950s, however, he would decisively shift his efforts to producing the small, irregularly shaped collages he called moticos. Johnson’s teacher Josef Albers had advised ambitious students to destroy their formative work when they felt ready to move on. Johnson burned every canvas still in his possession, including One Way, but traces of his early development survive in photographs such as this one.

Rudy Burckhardt
American, born in Switzerland, 1914–1999
Ray Johnson with "One Way"
ca. 1948–52
Gelatin silver print
7 1/2 × 5 1/2 in. (19.05 × 13.97 cm)
The Ray Johnson Estate
© 2022 Rudy Burckhardt / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York DO NOT USE UNTIL PERMISSION IS CLEARED