LONDON.- The Royal Academy of Arts
is presenting a landmark exhibition of the Honorary Royal Academician, Jasper Johns. This is the first comprehensive survey of the artists work to be held in the UK in 40 years. The exhibition comprises over 150 works including sculpture, drawings and prints, together with new work from the artist. Johns is recognised as one of the most significant and influential artists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and the exhibition spans over 60 years from his early career, right up to the present time, bringing together artworks that rarely travel from international private and public collections. The title of the exhibition comes from a statement by Johns in 2006: One hopes for something resembling truth, some sense of life, even of grace, to flicker, at least, in the work.
Widely known for his iconic images of flags, targets, numbers, maps and light bulbs, Johns has occupied a central position in American contemporary art since his arrival in New York in the 1950s. By 1955 his use of accessible and familiar motifs established a new vocabulary in painting. Johns treatment of iconography and the appropriation of objects and symbols made the familiar unfamiliar, achieving this through the distinctive, complex textures of his works. Through his ground-breaking paintings and sculptures, Johns established a decisive new direction in an art world that had previously been dominated by Abstract Expressionism.
Jasper Johns: Something Resembling Truth reveals the continuities and changes that have occurred over the past six decades, and the curiosity and experimentation that Johns continues to apply to his current practice. During the 1960s he added devices within his works such as objects from his studio, imprints and casts of the human figure. It was during this time that he started to explore printmaking and is now considered one of the most celebrated printmakers of modern times. The works of the 1970s are dominated by an abstract pattern, referred to as crosshatchings. During the 1980s he introduced a variety of images that engaged with the ambiguities of perception and ongoing themes involving memory, sexuality, and the contemplation of mortality. From this time, Johns increasingly incorporated tracings and details of works by artists including 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 such as 5 Postcards, 2013 (Private collection) and Regrets, 2013 (Private collection) shows the rich productivity and vitality of this late phase of his career.
The exhibition has been arranged thematically, encompassing the full range of Johns materials, motifs and techniques including his unique use of encaustic (heated beeswax) and collage in paintings, and the innovations he has achieved in sculpture and the graphic arts by expanding the possibilities of traditional media. It follows in the Royal Academys tradition of celebrating its Royal Academicians, continuing the strand of programming that has showcased some of the most significant living artists including Anish Kapoor, David Hockney, Anselm Kiefer and Ai Weiwei.
Highlights of the exhibition include, Flag, 1958 (Private collection); Painted Bronze, 1960, (Private collection) Painting with Two Balls, 1960 (on loan to the Philadelphia Museum of Art); 0 Through 9, 1961, (Private collection); Target, 1961 (The Art Institute of Chicago); Decoy, 1971 (Private collection); Between the Clock and the Bed, 1981 (National Gallery of Art, Washington); Dancers on a Plane, 1980-1 (Tate); Ventriloquist, 1983 (Museum of Fine Arts, Houston); Summer, 1985 (Museum of Modern Art, New York); and Bridge, 1997 (Private collection).