The Royal Academy of Arts stages a remarkable exhibition on the American Honorary Royal Academician, Jasper Johns. This is the first comprehensive survey of the artist’s work to be held in the UK in 40 years and the exhibition starts with a bang. The exhibition comprises over 150 works including sculpture, drawings and prints, together with new work from the artist most of them you’ve probably seen in your Art History books. The title of the exhibition comes from a statement by Johns in 2006: ‘One hopes for something resembling truth, some sense of life, even of grace, to flicker, at least, in the work.’
Widely known for his iconic images of flags, targets, numbers, maps and light bulbs, Johns has occupied a central position in American contemporary art since his arrival in New York in the 1950s. Highlights of the exhibition include, Flag, 1958 (Private collection); Painted Bronze, 1960, (Private collection) Painting with Two Balls, 1960 (on loan to the Philadelphia Museum of Art). By 1955 his use of accessible and familiar motifs established a new vocabulary in painting. Johns’ treatment of iconography and the appropriation of objects and symbols made the familiar unfamiliar, achieving this through the distinctive, complex textures of his works. Through his ground-breaking paintings and sculptures, Johns established a decisive new direction in an art world that had previously been dominated by Abstract Expressionism.