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Jasper Johns at Harvard Art Museums from 22 May

— May 2012

Associated media

Jasper Johns, The Dutch Wives, 1975. Encaustic and collage on canvas (two panels mounted together). Collection of the artist. Art © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Photo: Harvard Art Museums.

The Harvard Art Museums present ‘Jasper Johns / In Press: The Crosshatch Works and the Logic of Print’, an exhibition that centres on the artist’s signature ‘crosshatch’ works in the Harvard Art Museums collections and explores the impact of print on his oeuvre. The exhibition is the first that examines ‘print’ and ‘the press’ with reference not only to Johns’ experiments in printmaking, but also to print as a medium of information transfer, tracing his frequent use of newsprint and its temporal, political, and formal implications.

Over 20 works are on display, including prints, drawings, and one painting by Johns. Also featured is comparative material exploring the artist’s relationship to the history of printing. ‘Jasper Johns / In Press’ is on display May 22– August 18, 2012 at the Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, 485 Broadway, Cambridge, MA.

This exhibition, which began as a spring 2011 undergraduate course in Harvard’s History of Art and Architecture Department, was curated by Jennifer L. Roberts, Professor of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University; with assistance from Jennifer Quick, PhD candidate, Department of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University, and Agnes Mongan Curatorial Intern, Harvard Art Museums; Susan Dackerman, Director of Academic Programs and Carl A. Weyerhaeuser Curator of Prints, Harvard Art Museums; and four Harvard College undergraduates: Jacob Cedarbaum, C. Andrew Krantz, Mary Potter, and Phillip Y. Zhang.

The goal of the course was to create an exhibition that examined Jasper Johns’ encaustic-and-collage painting The Dutch Wives (1975) and its relationship to other works in the Art Museums collections. The students developed the theme for the exhibition, chose the artworks to be included, and wrote essays for a complementary digital publication. Working with Roberts, Jennifer Quick produced the texts that serve as entries in the printed exhibition catalogue.

The result of this curricular and collaborative venture is a groundbreaking exhibition that examines Johns’ overall artistic practice and reads it through his interest in and exploitation of different printmaking techniques and their metaphorical and material implications.

The exhibition includes key loans from Jasper Johns (The Dutch Wives, 1975), Jean Christophe Castelli (Cicada, 1979; Gray Alphabets, 1960, Painting with Two Balls I, 1962; and Usuyuki, 1981), and Harvard’s Houghton Library (Hatching [front endpaper], from Foirades/Fizzles by Johns and Samuel Beckett, 1976), along with prints by Johns from the Harvard Art Museums collections. The lithograph Corpse and Mirror (1976) was acquired by the Art Museums especially for the exhibition.

Works on paper by Albrecht Dürer, Sol LeWitt, Pablo Picasso, and Frank Stella, as well as examples of ancient cylinder seals, complement the display and show other aspects of printmaking.

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