The jojo card has been one of the most popular tarot card types in history, and the book The Jojo Card by Joanna Phelan is filled with examples of its design.
The book has sold more than 15 million copies worldwide, and it has also been a critical piece of the modern art of tarot and its tarot divination system.
But is this card truly a modern icon?
Joanna says she and her colleagues at the Royal College of Art in London have taken a close look at the jojo cards history, to see if it can shed light on its current status as a classic icon.
“It’s not just that the jojos have been around for a very long time,” she says.
“The jojoes are so deeply embedded in our collective history, they’ve become very, very important.”
The jojoscard, named after the legendary artist Frank Lloyd Wright, was created by British artist John W. Campbell, in 1913.
“This is the oldest surviving card in the art world, and there’s a lot of history behind it,” says Joanna.
“If you look at it through the eyes of a modern artist, this card represents everything that modern art is.”
Joanna believes that it’s worth exploring the history of jojo to understand the meaning behind it.
She thinks the card is an icon because it shows the power of divination and the role of art and art history.
“You see that it was a symbol of the artist, of the art of the period, and that there’s nothing about it that’s completely negative,” she explains.
“Its a beautiful card, and its the first card ever printed, it has been used for many different purposes, including divination.
It’s very much a symbol in its own right.”
But this card is also a reminder that it can be dangerous to read.
“We’ve seen a lot in the past of people reading jojo, and people are afraid to read jojobs card because it has a lot going on,” says Jane Hochberg, an artist and historian.
“So if you do, you’re going to get a lot wrong.”
And when reading a jojo with no explanation of the card, or reading a card that has no connection to the original artist, it can make you feel like you’ve missed out on something important.
“That’s why we don’t have jojocards,” says Julie Kinsman, a professor of art history at the University of Chicago, Chicago.
“Because we’re just missing the key,” she adds.
But if you read the card with an explanation, she says it can help you to understand what’s going on in the world.
And if you can read the original art, then the jojon can provide you with a sense of context.
“What we do here is take a card and we put it into the context of the artists who were creating it, and we get a sense about the way people were working, the way they thought, and so on,” explains Jane.
“And that’s why, even though it’s not a card we’ve printed for a modern viewer, we can read it with a modern reader because we have a way of making it accessible to people.”
JoJo, the card and art historian is on BBC Two on Thursday 8 February at 9:30pm (UK time).