At 83 years old, American artist Jasper Johns is probably one of the most famous living creators. Jasper Johns' flag and target paintings are easily recognisable and are undeniably iconic, contributing to the Pop art movement of the 1950s and 1960s. His Pop Art influenced artworks are thought to be some of the most important works of the 20th century. After sharing a network of influences with contemporary American icons such as the choreographer Merce Cunningham, the composer John Cage and the artist Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns' work comes to the Courtauld Gallery London in a rare display outside of the USA.
The title of the exhibition, ‘Regrets’, is both a contemplative look back at an outstanding career as well as a reference to the tongue-in-cheek rubber stamp Johns once used to quickly decline the flood of invitations he received on a daily basis.
The entire exhibition is based upon a single photograph taken by John Deakin of none other than the British painter Lucian Freud posing in Francis Bacon’s London studio. In a series of experiments in watercolour, pencil, ink and oil paint, Johns captures the image of Freud sitting on a brass bedstead, his hands covering his face. Johns also seeks to recreate the formal qualities of the photograph itself which was battered, torn and abused by Bacon as it was used for his Study for Self Portrait later in 1964. This subtle series uses the tears and folds of the photograph to actually define the composition of each work.
See if you can also spot the skull in the centre of one painting which appeared unexpectedly in Johns’ experimental mirroring and doubling of the image. The death mask appears to us like a memento mori – a sinister reminder of mortality and of fading memory.
Why it’s worth a visit
Any exhibition that brings together iconic British artists Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud with Johns gives Culture Whisper goose bumps. The Courtauld Gallery definitely holds one of the best exhibitions on in London now.
|What||Jasper Johns: Regrets, The Courtauld Gallery|
|Where||Courtauld Gallery, Strand, London, WC2R 0RN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Charing Cross (underground)|
12 Sep 14 – 14 Dec 14, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
|Website||Click here for more details|