Two small but different exhibitions on the work of one of the greatest-living modern American artists, most famous for his iconic collage of the American flag, in the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and the Courtauld in the London show what a genius he is.
In the exhibition Jasper Johns: Picture Puzzles at the Museum of Fine Arts, his prints, drawings and relief sculptures play with geometry, colour and graphical numbers in new ways that captivate and charm the viewer as he or she is drawn into the picture and realises just how much depth is hidden there.
In London, the Courtauld Gallery is hosting a small yet powerful exhibition – Regrets - a series of ten paintings and drawings inspired by an old photograph of Lucian Freud posing in Francis Bacon’s London studio. Based upon an exhibition originally organised by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, this might be considered by some to be a sombre exhibition with Johns pondering about things and people lost, taking inspiration frpm the death of his friend Lucian Freud and his lovers Cy Twombly and Robert Rauschenberg. He is the survivor and reflects on this in these artworks.
Jonathan Jones in the Guardian provides one of the most comprehensive reviews
“Regrets is not only the title of all these paintings but is written on most of them.”
“Regrets – is he seriously sharing his sadness about the loss of Rauschenberg and Twombly, Bacon and Freud, or ironically joking about sentimental interpretations of art? Is this tragedy or comedy?”
“Ever since Rembrandt painted his last self-portraits, there has been an expectation that great art must face The End in some heroic way. Jasper Johns faces it with a grin and a grimace. Not that he won’t be around for years, but in the deaths of his comrades he clearly sees a dark mirror. The skull looks back at him, the black door is open. Art happens in front of that door, always, an intricate game of avoidance of its terrors. These paintings delay the inevitable. Johns is joking at death’s door. Aren’t we all?”
Two exhibitions – one full of life celebrating graphics, line and colour; the other pondering issues around love and death.