Jasper Johns’s groundbreaking exhibition at the Leo Castelli Gallery (20/1-8/2/1958) of his famous target and flag works changed the current of New York painting and had an extraordinary impact on contemporary art. Not only did these paintings begin Johns’s successful dismantling of modern art through his ironic analysis of structures and rituals, but they also became the innovative new ground on which a generation of painters and sculptors made their work.
By Dimitris Lempesis
Photo: The Broad Archive
The exhibition “Something Resembling Truth” at The Broad in Los Angeles is the first full survey of Jasper Johns’ work in more than 20 years in the United States. With loans from dozens of Museums and Private Collections from around the world, including significant works from the Broad Collection, the exhibition traces the evolution his wide-ranging practice through a series of thematic chapters, featuring 120 of his most significant paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings. The exhibition reveals the continuities and changes in Johns’ work throughout his career. His use of accessible and familiar motifs established a new vocabulary in painting as early as the 1950s, his treatment of iconography and the appropriation of objects and symbols made the familiar seem unknown through the distinctive, complex textures of his works. Through his groundbreaking paintings and sculptures, Johns charted a radical new course in an art world that had previously been dominated by Abstract Expressionism. In the 1960s, he added devices within his works, including studio objects, imprints and casts of the human figure, while works from the 1970s are dominated by abstract “crosshatchings”. During this time, Johns began to explore printmaking and is now one of the most celebrated printmakers today. His work continued to evolve throughout the 1980s as he introduced a variety of images that engaged with themes involving memory, sexuality and the contemplation of mortality. From this time, Johns increasingly incorporated tracings and details of works by other artists, such as Matthias Grünewald, Pablo Picasso and Edvard Munch. The works of the 1990s built on the increasing complexity of subject and reference, and by the early 2000s, Johns had embarked on the pared down and more conceptual Catenary series which, along with other recent works, shows the rich productivity and vitality of this late phase of his career.
Info: Curators: Edith Devaney, Dr. Roberta Bernstein, Joanne Heyler and Ed Schad, The Broad, 221 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, Duration: 10/2-13/5/18, Days & Hours: Tue-Wed 11:00-17:00, Thu-Fri 11:00-20:00, Sat 10:00-20:00, sun 10:00-18:00, https://thebroad.org