Jasper Johns

Jasper Johns’s 60-year pursuit of the truth

Royal Academy in London brings together 150 works by the artist for major show opening this week

One of the earlier works in the exhibition, Jasper Johns's 1961 work 0 through 9 Jasper Johns/Vaga/Dacs

A major exhibition of works by Jasper Johns opens at the Royal Academy in London this week (Jasper Johns: Something Resembling Truth, 23 September-10 December). More than 150 paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints—including some of his most famous works—are due to be included.

Edith Devaney, the Royal Academy’s contemporary curator, says the show will start with his familiar flags, targets, maps and numbers—what Johns called “things the mind already knows”—but aims to reveal the degree to which he revisited themes over a 60-year period.

Devaney began considering a show when she saw some of his more recent work in New York. “I went to talk to him in 2013 and realised he was still working hard in the studio every day,” she says.

The exhibition will look at his use of symbols and language, his musings on paintings as physical objects, and on time, transience, memory and mortality. Although Johns has rarely discussed his relationship to other artists, the show will examine works referencing (through words and titles) artists and poets from Alfred Lord Tennyson and Samuel Beckett to Vincent van Gogh.

Appeared in The Art Newspaper, 293 September 2017