Behind the new exhibition "Mind / Mirror" by Jasper Johns

“Most viewers will only see the show at one of the two locations,” he said at the start, adding that he had felt this before Covid-19 eve...


“Most viewers will only see the show at one of the two locations,” he said at the start, adding that he had felt this before Covid-19 even curtailed travel.

Then he talked about numbers. “The scale is enormous,” he noted, counting for me the area of ​​the two museums. “The show is 19,000 square feet at the Whitney. Philadelphia is not that big. He added that the combined number of works, which includes paintings, drawings and prints, exceeds 500 and that the Whitney has more than Philadelphia “if you count 50 more ephemeral objects.”

What about the “Mind / Mirror” duality posed by the title and the bifurcated structure of the show? “Ultimately,” Rothkopf said in a neutral tone, “that was not to be the theme of the show.”

What is this theme? “For me it was very important to bring Jasper’s work to life,” he said. “Older people may admire him and take for granted that he is one of the greatest artists alive, but I don’t think that is necessarily true of the young spectators at the Whitney.”

The catalog of the show openly courts new audiences. Instead of a familiar lineup of art historians, the contributors represent a mix of voices, some flattering, others decidedly not. For example, Ralph Lemon, a black choreographer, sees Johns’ work through the eyes of his mother – another from South Carolina – and concludes that it does not reflect his experience of the Jim Crow South. Johns, according to Lemon, has been “granted the emphatic advantages of southern white primacy and black segregation,” but his art remains blind to this privilege.

One could argue, on the contrary, that the profusion of double images in Johns’ work represents an act of social empathy, an identification with the Other. Tellingly, the cover of the exhibition catalog is embossed with a white stick figure wielding a brush. The back is embossed with a black stick figure. “It was Jasper’s idea,” Rothkopf said, “and his only contribution to the design of the book.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Behind the new exhibition "Mind / Mirror" by Jasper Johns
Behind the new exhibition "Mind / Mirror" by Jasper Johns
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