Kay 'Kaja' Johnson - 1962

Author and Artist

American bohemian published poet and painter, widely traveled and was at one time living in the Beat Hotel in Paris with William Burroughs in 1962.

Kay 'Kaja' Johnson is not particularly well documented however she appeared to leave a legacy with those who knew her. She was born in Missouri and moved to New Orleans before ending up becoming involved in the 50s 'Beat' movement in Greenwich Village. Her book 'Human Songs' a collection of poems was being worked on during her time in Paris at the legendary 'Beat Hotel.' It was during this time she was photographed by Duffy. The image was published in Town magazine in December 1962 which can be seen here. 400 copies were produced in 1964 yet much of her other works seem to be lost. A quote from Kaja in the article:

"I came here to artistic friendship and found only loneliness. It was as if I were out in the Sahara desert. I used to believe that life, love, poets, and painters existed outside of the world, that somewhere out there was this beautiful group of angles. This is the great American myth. I was bitten by the teeth of the grand American illusion. Every man that I meet is a Picasso and artistically speaking I cease to be a virgin. And when I get up neat to the clouds, there is no more myth and I realise that everything is real. My art has been a revolt and a lament."

Quote ref: Z-0143-01 if you require press information regarding this image.

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