Jasper Johns: ‘Something Resembling Truth’

23 September — 10 December 2017

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“One hopes for something resembling truth, some sense of life, even of grace, to flicker, at least in the work.” Jasper Johns, 2008.


1949. Jasper Johns arrives in New York City from South Carolina, Georgia, seeking somewhere he’ll find art, and artists. By 1955 his use of accessible and familiar motifs like flags, targets, maps and lightbulbs creates a new vocabulary in painting – forging a decisive new direction in an art world previously ruled by Abstract Expressionism. Six decades of continually evolving, technically brilliant, game-changing work later, and it’s no wonder we consider him one of the world’s greatest living artists.

This ambitious show unites over 150 paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints tracing Johns’s extraordinary and long-ranging career. We look at his innovations in printmaking, and his integration of studio objects and casts of the human figure in painting. We present his works of the 1970s, dominated by an abstract pattern known as “crosshatchings”, and art illustrating his use of collage, where he incorporates details of works by artists including Pablo Picasso and Edvard Munch. We look at highly conceptual work and famous collaborations with choreographer Merce Cunningham, composer John Cage and fellow artist Robert Rauschenberg. All the way through to brand new, never-before-seen work created specifically by Johns for our Main Galleries.

Throughout, returning time and again regardless of media, are his overarching concerns with themes of memory, sexuality, the familiar and the unfamiliar, and mortality.

Time Out says it is an “indisputable fact: there’s no more important painter alive today than Jasper Johns”. There really is no one more fitting to take up the mantle from the likes of Ai Weiwei, Anselm Kiefer and Anish Kapoor for our single artist shows.

Photograph © Dan Budnik, All Rights Reserved.

23 September — 10 December 2017

Saturday – Thursday 10am – 6pm
Friday 10am – 10pm

Main Galleries, Burlington House

£19 (without donation £17). Concessions available. Friends of the RA, and under 16s when with a fee-paying adult, go free.

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