Item #322481 Birth Announcement for Kate and Ara Ann Wilson. Ray Johnson.

Birth Announcement for Kate and Ara Ann Wilson.

n.p: Privately printed, [1962].

Price: $1,750.00


About the item

8 1/2 x 11" flyer, offset lithograph in pink on white paper. Some faint handling creases, else fine.

Item #322481

A very early typographic work by Ray Johnson, a birth announcement for the arrival of twins Katherine Covey and Ann Wilson - the children of Johnson's friend William S. Wilson, and the grandchildren of the artist May Wilson. May and Bill Wilson are central to the evolution of the work of Ray Johnson, and his life and work are inextricable from May’s artistic practice and from Bill’s life of art and writing. This birth announcement marks the intersection of these energies and the transformation of Johnson’s mail art activities. An early example of Ray's beautiful typographical experiments with spacing, and one which would haunt the rest of his work, as he would cut up the letters and reuse them in other works. Part of it is incorporated into the Book About Death, which began the following year.

Moreover, according to Wilson, the birth of the twins may have inspired the very beginning of Ray's "Please send to" works. Here's Wilson:
"The difference between Ray's work and any earlier mailart occured when he wrote on a piece of paper 'please send to.' The first 'Please send to' which I am aware of was his response to the birth, on June 6, 1962, of identical twins, Katherine Covey Wilson and Ara Ann Wilson. For Ray, the birth of two babies whose bodies so correspond with each other that the same baby was an image of the other baby, with almost indiscernable differences, was an epiphany. He designed their birth announcement, and of course later would cut it up and adapt the letters for other purposes."

And again, on the significance of twins/doubles within the work of Ray Johnson:
"The meaning in the content of Ray’s images is often complemented by something in the style which pertains to a twoness, a doubling, as in mirroring, tracing, carbon copies, repeating or other duplication which permits reversal between the two — whether two which have been joined into one, or a one which had been split into two."

Wilson, William S. “Ray Johnson’s First ‘Please Send To’.” in Lightworks no. 22, pp. 19-20.
Wilson, William S. "Twins," in With Ray: The Art of Friendshp, Black Mountain College Dossier, 1997.

Rare, the first example we've encountered.