Exploring Jasper Johns' Bold Strokes at London's Royal Academy

By Harriet Salisbury

Jasper Johns’s most recognisable works drew on what he called “things the mind already knows,” objects such as targets and flags with ready-made access to a host of meanings. By using shreds of newspaper dipped in encaustic with bits of text still visible, his dynamic surfaces made the familiar unfamiliar. 

JASPER JOHNS, PAINTING WITH TWO BALLS, 1960. © JASPER JOHNS / VAGA, NEW YORK / DACS, LONDON. 

Thanks to such emblematic works and many more, Johns is an undisputed master, and London’s Royal Academy is honouring him with a comprehensive survey.  Co-curated by the artist himself (Johns is 87), the show includes 150 paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints from six decades of artistic creation, including new works.

It is a rare chance to test the artist’s summation of his endeavours: “One hopes for something resembling truth, some sense of life, even of grace, to flicker, at least in the work.”

 

Jasper Johns: ‘Something Resembling Truth,’ will be on view at the Royal Academy of Arts in London from 23 September–10 December.

 

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