In Fall 2020, A Lifetime Retrospective Dedicated To Jasper Johns Will Be Presented Simultaneously In New York And Philadelphia
In an unprecedented collaboration, this major exhibition is jointly organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art
October 28, 2020–February 21, 2021
The most ambitious retrospective to date of the work of Jasper Johns, organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, will be presented simultaneously in New York and Philadelphia this fall. A single exhibition in two venues, this unprecedented collaboration, Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror, will be the artist’s first major museum retrospective on the East Coast in nearly a quarter century. It opens concurrently in Philadelphia and in New York on October 28, 2020. Visitors who attend the exhibition at one venue will enjoy half-price adult admission at the other when presenting their ticket. And throughout the duration of the exhibition, members of each institution will receive free admission at both venues. (Additional details will be available at whitney.org and philamuseum.org.)
Filling almost 30,000 combined square feet across the two venues, the exhibition will contain nearly 500 works. It is the most comprehensive exhibition ever devoted to Johns, creating an opportunity to highlight not only his well-known masterpieces but also many works that have never been exhibited publicly. Conceived around the principles of mirroring and doubling that have long been a focus of the artist’s work, this two-part exhibition, which follows a loose chronological order from the 1950s to the present, offers an innovative curatorial model for a monographic survey. It will chronicle Johns’s accomplishments across many mediums—including paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, working proofs, and monotypes—and highlight the complex relationships among them.
Adam D. Weinberg, the Whitney’s Alice Pratt Brown Director, commented, “We are delighted to present this unique retrospective together with the Philadelphia Museum of Art, an important occasion for both museums, which have had connections with the artist going back decades. The Whitney has been collecting and showing Johns since the 1960s and we are thrilled to honor his ninetieth birthday in 2020, which also marks the ninetieth anniversary of the Whitney’s founding. Enigmatic, poetic, rich, and profoundly influential, Johns’s work is always ripe for reexamination.”
“Given the crucial place that Jasper Johns holds in the art of our time, this collaboration enables our two museums, together, to examine the artist’s vision in all its multiplicity and depth,” added Timothy Rub, the George D. Widener Director and CEO, Philadelphia Museum of Art. “The Philadelphia Museum of Art has long dedicated a gallery to the display of Johns’s work, which, given his admiration of Cézanne and Duchamp, richly resonates with our collection. Along with our colleagues at the Whitney, we hope to introduce a new generation of visitors in our respective cities to the exceptional achievements of this artist over the course of a career that now spans nearly seven decades.”
Jasper Johns (b. Augusta, Georgia, 1930) grew up in South Carolina where he pursued an interest in art at an early age. He attended the University of South Carolina before moving to New York in 1948, and briefly attended Parsons School of Design. For two years he served in the army and was stationed in South Carolina and Japan. He returned to New York in 1953, where he met Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage, and Merce Cunningham, with whom he would famously collaborate. His work has been the subject of numerous retrospectives and solo shows, including Jasper Johns: A Retrospective at the Jewish Museum (1964), Jasper Johns at the Whitney (1977), Jasper Johns: Works Since 1974 at the PMA (1988–89, which traveled to the Venice Biennale, where Johns was awarded the Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement), Jasper Johns: A Retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1996–97, the last comprehensive East Coast survey), and most recently Jasper Johns: ‘Something Resembling Truth’ at the Royal Academy, London, and The Broad, Los Angeles (2017–18). The innovative collaboration and structure of the Whitney and PMA’s retrospective distinguishes it from these previous shows and will account not only for the complexity and originality of Johns’s body of work at a new scale, but also will seek to test some of the conventional perceptions of it.
Since the early 1950s, Jasper Johns (b. 1930) has produced a radical and varied body of work distinguished by constant reinvention. In his twenties, Johns created his now-canonical Flag (1954–55), which challenged the dominance of Abstract Expressionism by integrating abstraction and representation through its direct, though painterly, deadpan visual power. His works have continued to pose similar paradoxes—between cognition and perception, image and object, painting and sculpture—and have explored new approaches to abstraction and figuration that have opened up perspectives for several generations of younger artists. Over the course of his career, he has tirelessly pursued an innovative body of work that includes painting, sculpture, drawing, prints, books, and the design of sets and costumes for the stage.
The exhibition is conceived as a unified whole, comprising two autonomous parts, and is co-curated by two longtime scholars who each has a close relationship with the artist: Carlos Basualdo, The Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the PMA, and Scott Rothkopf, Senior Deputy Director and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator at the Whitney. Basualdo noted, “We attempted to create an exhibition that echoes the logic of Johns’s work, and it is structured in a mimetic relation to his practice. Galleries at each venue will serve as cognates, echoes, and inversions of their counterparts at the other, allowing viewers to witness and experience the relationships between continuity and change, fragment and whole, singularity and repetition which Johns has used throughout his career to renew and transform his work.”
Rothkopf said, “One of our primary aims was to revivify the incredible sense of daring and discovery at the heart of Johns’s art. He stunned the establishment as a young man but continues to astonish audiences with surprising new ideas as he nears ninety. Surveying the whole of his career, we see an artist propelled by curiosity, constantly challenging himself—and all of us.”Continue reading