Friday, May 22, 2015

Guest Star Friday #144... Jasper Johns

Regrets, 2013

In 2014 just before I left for my second trip to Iceland, I visited MOMA to see Jasper Johns' Regrets, an exhibition I had been reading about for weeks. Johns' new work was compelling and I knew I had to see it in person. I was moved by the exhibition. It felt heavy; the weight of the subject, the underlying emotion, the visual elements, and the signs of his methods bared down on me intensely. Since then I've been steadily taking in Johns' work and life and continue to come back to several articles I read before my Regrets visit. I'm very interested in how he works and his process is apparent when you see the paintings and prints up close. Johns is obviously committed to his work, he is unapologetic, uncompromising. I love this quote from A Lens Catches; a Painter Converts in The New York Times:

"As always, in developing a series, he juggles several media, including oil paint, acrylic, watercolor, charcoal, graphite, colored pencil, ink on paper, ink on plastic, printing ink and photocopying. And his idea of doing variations on a theme is close to dissection: cutting an image open, picking apart its essence, moving bits around, throwing some out, squeezing others into new shapes, in the end restoring wholeness, but not in its initial form."

In another favorite article in the Financial TimesJohns talks about the show, his process, and his life. One of the quotes that continues to echo in my head regarding his process is: 

“Somehow what you end up with seems to be something you should have known was there to begin with, even though you had to work so hard to find it.”

How true. 

The day I visited Regrets I went early to beat the crowd and got to spend most of my visit nearly alone in the gallery. For the last twenty minutes I sat in front of the painting I have pictured at the top and just stared at it. I took it in as a whole and in minute detail, studying the composition and Johns' individual marks, and trying to think about what he must have been thinking about. It is indeed a heavy painting.

White Target, 1957

Near the Lagoon, 2002-03

Untitled, 1964-65

Fool's House, 1962

See more of my favorite Jasper Johns' pieces on Pinterest.

Thanks for reading.

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