How to Draw a Bunny
attempts to both unravel the enigma of artist Ray Johnson's elusive personality and restore him to his rightful place in the pantheon of 20th century American art. An artist whose collages bridged dada and pop art, Johnson occupied a respected if obscure corner of the visual art world. Upon his suicide off Long Island in 1995, he left his friends and associates with a bounty of work and more questions than answers about the man behind such works as "Untitled (Joseph Cornell Just a Face)." Through interviews with subjects from Christo to the sheriff who investigated his suicide, this documentary serves its subject best when it allows the camera to linger on Johnson's work. Those unfamiliar with Johnson's sometimes cartoonish reappropriations of advertising iconography may marvel in much the same way viewers of Basquiat
did a decade ago. Here was an artist who transformed every act of his lifeeven his highly orchestrated deathinto a work of art. From letters to canvases to a pair of shoes, Ray Johnson used the world as his medium to create objects of wonder.
How to Draw a Bunny grates on occasion, especially with so many shots of brushes tapping a snare drum and swirling shots of artworks when a static image would have sufficed. Cinematic tics notwithstanding, the film is a loving introduction to a contemporary of Lichtenstein and Warhol who arguably achieved the sublimitybut not the notorietyof his peers. --Ryan Boudinot