John Held, Jr.

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John Held, Jr. (b.1947) is an American rubberstamp and artistamp artist, performer, archivist, librarian, researcher, and writer. Held has been the main researcher of Mail Art since the early eighties. Born as Jonathan Held, he decided to take the name of John Held Jr. when he came of age as an artist. John Held Jr. was a cartoonist in the 1920’s who originated the look of the "flapper girl" and was considered as one of America's great illustrators. For Held, the mail artist, appropriating his name was dada and a tribute to the original John Held Jr., even though he had passed away and his wife didn't appreciate it. Held had a large correspondence with Ray Johnson himself and it was Johnson who gave him addresses and who introduced him to other artists. Held was a Fine Arts Librarian at the Dallas Public Library from 1981-1995. In 1982, Held Jr. began making artistamps and opened his 'Modern Realism Gallery and Archive' together with his future wife Paula Barber housed in Dallas prior to 1996 and then in San Francisco since then. They organized the first exhibition of Ray Johnson's Mail Art. Since 1986, performance art has joined Held’s artistic activities. An example of one such performance work is his SHADOW project of 1991, an event realized everywhere all over the world to commemorate the Hiroshima Holocaust. Held was also curator at the ‘Stamp Art Gallery” in San Francisco which is an exhibition space devoted to rubberstamp and artistamp works directed by Picasso Gaglione (an artist who Held also collaborated with for the ‘Fake Picabia Brothers’ tour in 1995).


The art of John Held, Jr. : October 28-November 22, 1969. New York : Graham Gallery, 1969] – Exhibiton Catalog

Total art matchbook [Utica, N.Y.] : J. Held, [1978] – Artist Book

Diary of correspondence, 1979 : with an index of correspondents. S.l. : s.n., 1980]

Mail art about mail art. Commonpress: 55. Dallas, Tex.: Richland College, 1984 (editor). - Periodical

**International artist cooperation : mail art shows, 1970-1985 Dallas, Tex. : Dallas Public Library, c1985 - N6494.M35 H45 1986 (Art Lib.) 

Japan travel diary, July 28-August 14, 1988. [United States : s.n., 1988?]

A world bibliography of mail art. Dallas, Tex. : Dallas Public Library, 1989.

Dzhon Kheld i al?ternativnai?a? filatelii?a? : katalog vystavki / [avtor teksta--Sergei˘ Sigei˘].Ei˘sk : Otdel zhivopisi i grafiki, Istoriko-kraevedcheskogo muzei, 1990. – Exhibition Catalog

**Mail art : an annotated bibliography. Metuchen, N.J. : Scarecrow Press, 1991- Z5936.M33H45 1991 (Art Lib.)

The Shadows Project : a collaboration between the Mail Art Network and peace activists in contemplation of an uncertain age. Kenosha, Wisconsin : Light and Dust Books, Membrane Press, c1991. – Exhibition Catalog

Bibliozine. Dallas : John Held Jr., 1992-. - Periodical

International networker exhibition : Dallas Public Library, Dallas, Texas, May 2-9, 1992 : Decentralized World-Wide Networker Fax Congress : Dallas Public Library, May 2, 1992 [S.l. : s.n., 1992] (organizer) – Exhibition Catalog

Decentralized World-Wide Networker Congress 1992 : an anthology. S.l. : s.n., 1993?]

Art from the Rim: The New York Correspondance School of San Francisco

Artistamp Travel Diary.  Stamp Art Editions.  San Francisco, California. 1995.

Cuban Travel Diary.  Modern Realism, Dallas, Texas.  1995.

L'Art Tampon. Stamp Art Editions. San Francisco, California.  1995.

Sometimes Mechelen, Belgium : Passion Creates Art Productions, [1996]( With Luce Fierens)

Robert Watts: The Complete Stamp Sheets: 1961-1986. Stamp Art Gallery Editions, San Francisco. 1996.

The Fake Picabia Bros. : 50 favorite mail art catalogs : San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Library ... S.F. Ca. ... Feb. 15 to Apr. 2, 1996. [San Francisco : s.n., 1996] (curator with Picasso Gaglione) – Exhibition Catalog

Arman: The Cachets. Stamp Art Gallery, San Francisco. 1997.

Bay Area Dada. San Francisco : New York ; Snowman Publications, 1999.

L'arte del timbro = Rubber stamp art. Bertiolo (Udine) : AAA, 1999

A Ray Johnson miscellany / The Fake Picabia Bros. San Francisco : New York : Snowman Publications, c1999.

Fake Emperor : collaboration Tokyo, Japan : Keiichi Nakamura, 2001 (With Nakamura Keiichi)

Sources for obtaining more information about the artist:

Website: - contains extensive bibliography

Perneczky, Geza. Network Atlas: World and Publications by the People of the First Network. Soft Geometry, Cologne. (updated April 2003). Vol. 1, pp. 185-186.

Janssen, Ruud. Mail-interview with John Held, Jr. 1995 Part 1 , Part 2

Some biographical information obtained from Sztuka Fabryka (2005). Mail-Art Encyclopaedia. accessed in April 2005.


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