May 14, 2009

One on One: Julie Charles on Jasper Johns

Alongside our curator “One on One” talks, we post regular ‘one on one’ bits from curators, staff, and public, on a particular work or exhibition they’re interested in. Today’s post is from Julie Charles, associate curator of education.

Jasper Johns, Lands End, 1963. Oil on canvas with stick

Jasper Johns, Land’s End, 1963. Oil on canvas with stick

A couple of weeks ago I was in Philadelphia for a conference and went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see the Cezanne and Beyond exhibition. This exhibition displayed paintings, watercolors, and drawings by Cezanne alongside works by several artists for whom Cezanne has been an inspiration and whose work reflects Cezanne’s legacy. One gallery paired a classic Cezanne still life with Jasper Johns’s painting, Drawer, an all-grey canvas with, literally, a drawer embedded in the surface. I spent quite some time thinking about that work by Jasper Johns. When looking at his work, I always seem to end up with more questions than answers. Perhaps that’s what keeps me coming back to his work again and again.

In the 1950’s  Robert Rauschenberg, who was a friend of Johns at the time, said “. . . a painting is more like the real world if it’s made out of the real world.” Rauschenberg and Johns both took as their subjects, and materials, the stuff of real life—things that were lying around their studios or that they could find on the streets of New York City. Johns himself said that he chose to depict maps, targets, and numbers (more stuff of everyday life) because they were “things the mind already knows” and therefore, his works could operate on other levels.

This Thursday (May 14), I invite you to join me in a discussion about Johns’s painting, Land’s End. Together, I hope we can explore the questions of how artists get their ideas for their art as well as how the stuff of everyday life comes together in this work to let the mind operate on other levels.

Julie Charles, Associate Curator, Education

Comments (4)

  • Julian Myers says:

    I’m with viv on this one. The relationship is common knowledge in art circles, sure, thanks in large part to Katz. But it’s still always euphemized, alluded to, winked at, etc. “The love that dare not speak its name.” “Friends,” “bachelors,” “uncles,” “roommates,” etc. etc. etc. Basta ya!

  • Jonathan Katz has written extensively on the relationship between Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg. You can read more about it here:

  • Their relationship is pretty out (in wikipedia etc). It’s worth repeating I suppose, but it’s pretty common knowledge.

  • weren’t johns or rauschenberg lovers at the time (or soon after)? why are they always kept in the closet. come out!!!

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