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William S. Wilson papers

 Collection
Identifier: MS-0668
William S. Wilson (1932-), born in Baltimore, 1932, was graduated with Honors in Philosophy of Science from the University of Virginia, then went on to Yale University where he received an M.A. and Ph.D. in English literature. He has received a National Endowment for the Arts art-writer’s grant and Warhol Foundation Grant, 2012, for a book about the life and art of Ray Johnson. Wilson's mother was May Wilson (1905-1986), pioneer of the feminist and mail art movement, best known for her Surrealist junk assemblages, her Ridiculous Portrait photocollages, and was a collaborator of Johnson. This collection consists of correspondence from or regarding William S. Wilson and his relatives, as well as some materials on Johnson. The collection spans 1963 to 2009.

Dates

  • 1963 - 2009

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Please contact Special Collections for more information.

Collection is open for use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.

Extent

0.167 Cubic Feet (2 legal size folders)

Biographical / Historical

William S. Wilson was born in Baltimore in 1932 and graduated with Honors in Philosophy of Science from the University of Virginia, and then went on to Yale University where he received an M.A. and Ph.D. in English literature. His novel Birthplace: moving into nearness, was nominated for a Pen-Faulkner Award. He has received a National Endowment for the Arts art-writer’s grant and Warhol Foundation Grant, 2012, for a book about the life and art of Ray Johnson.

Wilson's mother was May Wilson (1905 - October 19, 1986), an American artist. A pioneer of the feminist and mail art movement, she is best known for her Surrealist junk assemblages and her "Ridiculous Portrait" photocollages. She was a collaborator of Johnson.

Raymond Edward "Ray" Johnson (October 16, 1927 - January 13, 1995), known primarily as a collagist and correspondence artist, was a seminal figure in the history of Neo-Dada and early Pop art. Once called "New York's most famous unknown artist", Johnson also staged and participated in early performance art events as the founder of a far-ranging mail art network – the New York Correspondence School – which picked up momentum in the 1960s and is still active today. He is occasionally associated with members of the Fluxus movement but was never a member. He lived in New York City from 1949 to 1968, when he moved to a small town in Long island and remained there until his suicide.

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of correspondence from or regarding William S. Wilson and his relatives, as well as some materials on artist Ray Johnson. Correspondence includes letters, postcards, cards, and notes. Materials regarding Johnson include blank postcards featuring his art and writings on his work. The collection spans 1963 to 2009.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was donated in two accruals, one by William S. Wilson in 2007 and another by his cousin Robert A. Wilson in 2009.

Processing Information

This collection was processed in September 2015 by Annie Tang.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Contact:
The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA