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Princeton University Art Museum Premieres Jasper Johns Exhibition
Jasper Johns, American, born 1930. Light Bulb I, 1958. Sculp-metal, 11.4 x 17.1 x 11.4 cm. Collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, gift of Mrs. Jack M. Farris. Photo: © Jasper Johns / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

PRINCETON, NJ.- This fall the Princeton University Art Museum will be the first venue for the traveling exhibition Jasper Johns: Light Bulb, on view October 2, 2008, through January 4, 2009. Organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD), the exhibition examines the role that a simple object, the incandescent light bulb, has played in the work of American artist Jasper Johns. The light bulb made its initial appearance early in Johns’s career in a 1957 drawing of a bare bulb hanging from an electrical cord. It was also the subject of his first sculpture, Light Bulb I (1958), whose creation coincided with his first solo exhibition in New York at the fledgling Leo Castelli Gallery. This everyday object would eventually dominate Johns’s limited sculptural output and become a recurring motif in his prints and drawings for the next twenty years.

Jasper Johns: Light Bulb brings together for the first time Johns’s light bulb sculptures and the related works on paper, including several drawings from the artist’s collection that have never before been exhibited. Johns, who often produced counterpart prints to his paintings and sculptures, viewed printmaking as a medium that encouraged experimentation. The exhibition, which includes seven sculptures and eighteen prints and drawings, highlights the relationship between Johns’s two-dimensional and three-dimensional works, the importance of artistic process, and the artist’s underlying concern with the manner in which we perceive, label, and categorize objects.

“This exhibition provides a wonderful opportunity for viewers to explore Johns’s remarkable ability to extract from a single, seemingly simple, and often-overlooked object from our daily lives a range of meaning and formal possibility,” said Kelly Baum, Locks Curatorial Fellow for Contemporary Art at the Princeton University Art Museum.

For more than a half-century, Johns (born 1930) has created a rich, compelling body of work. Born and raised in South Carolina, Johns briefly studied at the University of South Carolina before moving to New York in the early 1950s. There he met John Cage, Merce Cunningham, and Robert Rauschenberg, artists who shared his irreverence toward fixed attitudes about “art” and his interest in mining the artistic possibilities of everyday life, an attitude strongly influenced by Marcel Duchamp. Together these four artists would change the course of American art, dispelling the allure of Abstract Expressionism and setting the stage for both Minimalism and Pop. Johns constantly challenges the technical possibilities of painting and sculpture, and his innovations in screen-printing, lithography, and etching have revolutionized the field.

Following its debut at the Princeton University Art Museum, the exhibition will be on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego from January 25, 2008, through May 10, 2009, and at the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington, Seattle, from July 11 through October 18, 2009.

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