Fabian Marcaccio writes about the work of Jasper Johns.
Marcaccio observes: "Most American painters are voluntarily simplistic. They are proud of maintaining one single technique, working on one single support and keeping one single attitude over the course of their careers. Johns wants to be a complete painter, not a specialist in this or that. He keeps painting total and whole despite the fact that many see it as exhausted and fragmented... There are no easy solutions for Johns or any painter with a sense of responsibility to painting. This ghostly piece [Perilous Night] contains some of the more productive seeds that have been sown in American painting in the last 30 years."
Anna Heyward reviews In the Studio: Paintings, curated by John Elderfield, at Gagosian Gallery, New York, on view through April 18, 2015. The show features paintings of the artist's studio by Wilhelm Bendz, Honoré Daumier, Thomas Eakins, Lucian Freud, Jean-Léon Gérôme, William Hogarth, Matisse, Picasso, Constantin Brancusi, Alberto Giacometti, Louis Moeller, Alfred Stevens, James Ensor, Jacek Malczewski, Diego Rivera, Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, Carl Gustav Carus, Adolph von Menzel, Jim Dine, Philip Guston, Jasper Johns, Richard Diebenkorn, Helen Frankenthaler, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Larry Rivers, Jacek Malczewski.
Heyward writes: "There is an Eakins from Philadelphia, a Freud from Tate London, and Diego Rivera’s The Painter’s Studio or Lucila and the Judas Dolls, which has never been shown in the United States before and is on loan from a collection in Mexico City... The show’s works range from early pictures of artists at easels, such as a Hogarth from London’s National Portrait Gallery, to the abstraction of high modernism (two Picassos), to the studio walls of Lichtenstein and Diebenkorn."
John Yau reviews Jasper Johns: Sculptures and Related Paintings at Craig F. Starr Gallery, New York, on view through January 23, 2015.
Yau writes: "One problem ... as Barnaby Wright points out ... is that Johns has never shown any affinity with 'the populist imagery of Andy Warhol or the ‘objective’ flatness of Frank Stella.' Here, another narrative emerges, which pits Johns’s remoteness against Warhol’s popularity, and deduces that the former is intellectual and elitist, while the latter is brilliantly in touch with his audience and therefore democratic. This isn’t just a strain of anti-intellectualism, but a deep-seated mistrust of artists and writers who want to put everything into their work ... Johns didn’t buy into any of the modernist fictions — even those that originated with artists such as Piet Mondrian and Kazimir Malevich — from the beginning. He seems to have no interest in postmodernist fictions, either. Johns is a skeptic who thinks that any promise of fulfillment is an illusion. He was never interested in pictorial states of objectivity, purity, opticality, presence, immanence or in stopping time. He certainly did not wish to be associated with, or even try to accommodate his work to, an aesthetic agenda."
Schor writes that "it is fascinating to see how the artist has taken an unprepossessing photographic scrap and rung so many changes on it yet the image upon which this edifice of studio practice is based is perhaps not all that resonant, either absolutely, or in the way he has chosen to interpret it by enhancing abstraction and deflecting figuration. Or his pressing of the appropriated image through layers of visual analysis does not actually push experimentation with materials far enough in order to get at the core of the content by his deconstruction of the given picture. But, now I think, perhaps I am wrong. As I write, the work becomes more interesting, the fact that the figure is so obscured and the very disciplined and precise thoroughness of the visual analysis of the appropriated image is fascinating in its discipline and rigor and in the emotional reticence. Maybe. And yet…"
Bradley Rubenstein reviews the exhibition Jasper Johns: Regrets at the Museum of Modern Art, MoMA, New York, on view through September 1, 2014.
Rubenstein writes: "In these current paintings he plays with mirror images of the photograph of Freud... Both the artist and the painting struggle against the urge to reveal themselves in their entirety; we see an artist struggling to communicate with sincerity, yet also with studied calculation... Johns has worked out his composition and imagery through studies [in which] mixed media function in relationship to paint the way an understudy does to an actor -- allowing Johns to imagine the possibilities and incident of paint, a dress rehearsal for the ultimate pictures... In the end, through the distancing effects of Johns's process, he allows himself to be 'painted out of the picture' in the way that he did with his targets and flags. Johns allows the paintings to once again stand apart from their creator, with an eye to posterity, letting the viewer into his pictorial space, not his personal one."
Julie L Belcove profiles painter Jasper Johns on the occasion of the upcoming exhibition Jasper Johns: Regrets at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, on view beginning March 15, 2014.
The show will feature John's newest paintings "paintings and works on paper, predominantly in greys and blacks, all riffing on the same image of a man sitting, with one leg tucked under him, on an old-fashioned iron bed, clutching his head in his hand as if in despair. If there were any question as to the mental anguish portrayed here, Johns has stamped an emphatic 'Regrets, Jasper Johns' on each piece. The series, the latest from the renowned but elusive artist, is also titled 'Regrets.' " Johns' based the series on a photograph owned by Francis Bacon that pictures fellow painter Lucian Freud "perched on the quilt-covered bed and hiding his face in his hand, newspapers at his feet."
On the occasion of the exhibitions A Bigger Splash: Painting after Performance at Tate Modern (through April 1) and Explosion! The Legacy of Jackson Pollock at the Fundació Joan Miró (through Feb 24), Stephen Moonie considers the history of "painting and performance in relation to one another." He asserts that "it is evident that painting can no longer be taken for granted: instead it operates within an expanded field across and between media."
He concludes: "What is clear... is that performance and painting are closely intertwined, and that the relationship between the two works both ways: painting is not only a pathway into performance, but that many aspects of performance equally lead back into painting..."
Painter Steven Alexander discovers a treasure trove of video interviews by Carol Mancusi-Ungaro with painters including: Jasper Johns, Brice Marden, David Novros, Cy Twombly, and James Rosenquist at the Artists Documentation Program.
Alexander writes: "Ms. Mancusi-Ungaro is remarkably adept at asking questions that lead to revealing insights into each artist's thinking process as well as rarely glimpsed details about how certain works were made. For painters, as for conservators, this series is an almost endless well of technical and conceptual information."
It's the last weekend to see Jasper Johns Drawing Over at Castelli Gallery. Art Observed reports that Drawing Over is "an exhibition of Jasper Johns drawings from the last four decades at the Castelli Gallery – of which many pieces have never been exhibited ... Chosen by the artist from across his lengthy career, the works are drawings over Johns’ own prints."
Edited by artist Brett Baker, Painters' Table highlights writing from the painting blogosphere as it is published and serves as a platform for exploring blogs that focus primarily on the subject of painting.