Untitled (Moticos with KAFKAYLLA)

Johnson applied one all-purpose noun, “moticos” (both singular and plural), to his short writings, his collages, and the glyph-like shapes he drew. He and his friend Norman Solomon coined the term by reshuffling the word “osmotic,” chosen out of the dictionary. On this moticos made from a flattened box, Johnson paired a photograph of a pigeon with its strange twin: a sort of photo-bird, composed of cookie cutters and a checkerboard. Johnson proposes a second unlikely duo by combining the names of the author Franz Kafka (1883–1924) and the photographer Ylla (Camilla Koffler, 1911–1955), known for her images of animals.

Ray Johnson (1927–1995)
Untitled (Moticos with KAFKAYLLA)
ca. 1953–54
Collage on illustration board
13 × 5 in. (33.02 × 12.7 cm)
The Ray Johnson Estate
© Ray Johnson / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York