Matthew Marks Gallery
522 West 22nd Street, NY
Jasper Johns: Recent Paintings & Works on Paper, includes fifteen paintings and twenty-three works on paper made since 2012.
Two 2018 paintings, as well as a group of new drawings, are based on a photograph of a soldier, Lance Corporal James Farley, taken during the Vietnam War by LIFE magazine photographer Larry Burrows. The soldier is seen at the end of a long day, head in his hands after a failed mission. Stenciled at the top and bottom of both canvases are the words “FARLEY BREAKS DOWN / AFTER LARRY BURROWS.”
Also on view are four paintings and two works on paper from the Regrets series, all completed after the exhibition of the same name at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 2014. Like the Farley series, they are based on an image of a man covering his face, in this case a photograph of Lucian Freud seated on a bed. In the catalogue that accompanies the current exhibition, Alexi Worth writes that these series both “show Johns breaking what seemed like foundational prohibitions against outright depiction and unguarded emotion.” The artist’s willingness to contradict himself may account for the perpetual surprises in his long career. “I think you can be more than one person,” Johns has said. “I think I am more than one person. Unfortunately.”
In two other new paintings, Johns revisits his Seasons paintings of the mid-1980s. Like them, the new canvases feature the artist’s shadow flanked by motifs from his earlier work. In the 2018 paintings, however, the shadow is overlaid with a skeleton wearing a hat. Accompanying these paintings are five related works on paper, including drawings in ink and charcoal on paper or ink on plastic, as well as several prints.
In October 2020, Johns’s work will be the subject of a major retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Shown at both institutions simultaneously, it will be the artist’s most comprehensive exhibition to date.
until April 6, 2019