“I think that one wants from a painting a sense of life,” the American artist Jasper Johns, now 91, has observed. “The final suggestion, the final statement, has to be not a deliberate statement but a helpless statement. It has to be what you can’t avoid saying.” Johns entered the art scene when Abstract Expressionism was all the rage, and grew to prominence when its influence waned, part of a circle of like-minded peers: the artist Robert Rauschenberg, the choreographer Merce Cunningham, and the composer John Cage. Johns is known for sculptural paintings and prints that combine symbols—flags, numbers, targets, maps—with brushwork. In the largest Johns survey yet, shown simultaneously in two museums—the Whitney in New York and the Philadelphia Museum of Art—nearly 500 paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints cover seven decades of dominance. —E.C.
The show is also on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
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