TX: signed with fountain pen at upper center <Jean Follett>, inscribed with crayon at left <CAT-153 / REF.370/HK / B / Jean Follett>, stamped at right <HANSA GALLERY / 210 CENTRAL PARK SOUTH / NEW YORK CITY>, printed on worn sticker at center <THE AMERICAN FEDERATION OF [ARTS] / 1083 Fifth Avenue, New York 28, New York [...] / Mr. Richard Bellamy / 343 Cherry [Str]eet / New York 2, New York / 23. Follett - Three Blac[k Elements] / Postmaster: This parcel may be opened for for postal in[...]>
CM: Jean Follett's Three Black Elements is a characteristic example of so-called 'Junk art' constructed from the waste products of urban life. In so far as Junk art represented a revolt against traditional materials and a desire to show that works of art can be constructed from the humblest and most worthless things, it may be plausibly traced back to Cubist collages, Marcel Duchamp's ready-mades, and the work of Kurt Schwitters. However, it is not until the 1950s that it is possible to speak of a Junk movement, particularly with the work of Robert Rauschenberg, who used rags and tatters of cloth, torn reproductions, and other waste materials in his combine paintings. Lawrence Alloway, in 1961, was the first to apply the name 'Junk art' to such works, and the term was then extended to sculpture made from scrap metal, used timber, and so on. Californian 'Funk art' sometimes made use of similar materials. The Junk art of the USA had analogies in the work of Antoni Tàpies and others in Spain, Burri and Arte Povera in Italy, and similar movements in most European countries and in Japan, where debris from the Second World War was sometimes converted to artistic use.
The approximate year of Three Black Elements was determined by the stamp of Hansa Gallery, founded in 1952 by Richard Bellamy and Ivan Karp, which was at 210 Central Park South in the period from the fall of 1954 to the summer of 1959.