Jasper Johns: Gray
Post #1155 • April 9, 2008, 10:31 AM • 54 Comments
New York - Jasper Johns: Gray, I predict, will be remembered as one of the biggest visual art bummers of 2008. Never mind that most of the show is the color of dryer lint - worse, it speaks of undeniable but catastrophically tacked-on sincerity. O pendulous broom of time, o yellowing newspaper snippets of memory, o mournful turp can of painting's ambitions - one piece after the next looks like an appeal for unearned serious regard, or at least the interpretive parsing that passes for serious regard in some circles.
In aggregate it becomes clear why Johns got such mileage out of flags and maps - left to his own devices, his compositions tend to revert to wallpaper. When he tries for variation of scale within a work, to make a more picture-like picture, so to speak, he produces downright crazy results. Johns may represent a seminal figure of Pop, but his real legacy is an ouevre of mute art that looks like it is about things, whatever things you bring to it, clearing another way for all manner of lazy wreckage to make claims on artistic greatness and profoundity.