If post modern and conceptual art leaves you wondering just what was the artist thinking when he or she conceived a particular piece, the Jasper Johns exhibit at the Broad Museum downtown might just provide some answers.
Indeed, if you are at all interested, or think you should be, in the constantly shifting and ever-challenging modes and methodology of the art world, the exhibit, entitled “Something Resembling Truth.”
As I comment on public radcio 99.1 KBU and select websites everywhere, it is a must, and runs for several more months through May 13th, and worth the $25 entry fee. The Broad is usually happily free.
This is an exception, but so is Johns, who at 88 is considered our greatest living artist, as someone once described him, an iconic iconoclast, the father of Pop and Conceptual art. Certainly he is revered among the multi-media avant garde in art, music and dance.
And specifically, if you have been entranced by Johns as I have been for six decades. the exhibit is a most welcomed well organized and explained comprehensive survey, for Johns in his constant experimentations has arguably influenced nearly every artistic movement from the 1950s to the present day.
Beginning with no less a rejection of the Modernist isims of Dada and Abstract Expressionism that isolated one’s aesthetic experience from any cultural context , Johns conversely explored what we actually see.
The curators state in a gallery introduction that “by approaching widely recognizable signs and symbols, Johns sought to make the familiar unfamiliar, inviting viewers to look more closely at what he calls, things the mind already knows.”
Thus displayed, and explained, are Johns widely recognized images of the American flag in a parade of subtle permutations. Also displayed are targets, numbers, maps, light bulbs, and several collages that feature broken school rulers. All of this may be commonplace, but it also cryptic. And Johns is not saying, and is quote suggesting “the meanings may just be that the painting exists.”
But the cultural critic Marc Haefele. says it is sometimes apparent, as in a painting called “In Memory of my feelings.” With a gloomy finish and pathetically dangling fork and spoon, Haefele suggest it evokes Johns’ sorrow over the loss of his longtime lover, the artist Robert Rauschenberg. You get it.