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Really?

Ray Yoshida

1995

collage of comic book clippings, pasted onto paper

6 1/4" x 8"

Ray Yoshida had a voracious appetite for the designed object and for the extraordinary among the mundane. By the end of his life, the walls of his home were covered with prized objects from flea markets and artworks by self-taught artists. Similarly, his penchant for the arrangement of everyday materials in the creation of a work of art guided his practice as an artist and teacher. As an instructor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, he would challenge his students—which included all of the Chicago Imagists, with the exception of Karl Wirsum—to deeply examine ordinary objects and ask, “How many ways can an object be represented?”

The transformation of ordinary object to objet d’art is exemplified by Yoshida’s practice of cutting out speech bubbles and architectural elements from comic strips to create collages. He began collecting comic cutouts in 1967 as a way to refresh his artistic practice—an example of a scrapbook containing these elements has been digitized by the Archives of American Art. Yoshida collected thousands of these “specimens,” as he called them, which he stored in a variety of containers around his Chicago apartment—even inside cough drop tins. After completing a series of these collage works in the 1960s, Yoshida wouldn’t return to this type of work until the 90s. In Really?, newspaper comic clippings that are entirely devoid of context—a flotsam of carefully pruned abstract shapes—surround a single figure, a woman with a collaged-on nose. With the word “Really?” hovering over her head, the woman appears annoyed with the artist and her new appendage. In this newly constructed narrative, Yoshida presents an enigmatic pattern derived from the overlooked forms of the comic strip, while maintaining the characteristic humor of the genre.

Credit

The Bill McClain Collection of Chicago Imagism