CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA.- Jasper Johns (b. 1930) has fundamentally challenged ideas about what art can be by focusing on everyday icons and emblems, or what the artist famously referred to as "things the mind already knows. While perhaps best known for his paintings, Johns is also widely respected for his graphic work, which has occupied a central role in his oeuvre for over five decades. Johns prints not only show a mastery of the various mediums he has engaged, but also a profound sense of experimentation, which has had significant impact not only on his own art, but also on the field itself. Printmaking has allowed Johns to explore various methods for interpreting icons, emblems, and objectssuch as numbers, letters, maps, targets, and ale canswhile also expanding the possibilities for printmaking. Several of his prints make reference to the artists work in other media, yet they are not mere copies or reproductions. Rather, Johns has consistently returned to such motifs in order to explore new methods and techniques that would allow him to reinterpret and engage these subjects again.
I bought my first Jasper Johns print, Decoy II, in 1996. I was as taken then as I am now by the intrigue and complexity of his work. He portrays an image but that is just the beginning of the journey for the viewer. I hope the exhibition at the Fralin helps others understand and appreciate why Jasper Johns is the foremost artist of our time. -- Jordan D. Schnitzer
This exhibition comprises selections from one of the richest private collections of Jasper Johns prints, that of the Jordan D. Schnitzer Family Foundation. Beginning with a rare monoprint from 1954, the exhibition will showcase almost twenty years of Johns work. The majority are lithographs, reflecting the importance the process has had for Johns since his early experiments with the renowned publisher Tatyana Grosman at Universal Limited Art Editions (ULAE) in 1960. Also included are lead reliefs, screenprints, and prints that use embossing, which show Johns interest in, and engagement with, the various processes, methods, and materials of printmaking, even at this early stage. In addition to illustrating Johns technical skill, the prints in the exhibition present the quotidian and often enigmatic motifs that are central to his art. From the works in the series 09 (1963) to the complex layers of objects and meanings in Decoy II (1973), the exhibition reveals the skillful and poetic way in which Johns has consistently advanced contemporary printmaking, while also expanding the visual vocabulary and technical possibilities of art.