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Past Things and Present: Jasper Johns since 1983

March 24 - May 23, 2004


The Greenville County Museum of Art is one of only two museums in America privileged to show Past Things and Present: Jasper Johns since 1983, an important exhibition of some ninety prints, paintings and drawings that Johns has created over the last twenty years of his career. (right: Jasper Johns, Green Angel, 1990, © Jasper Johns, Licensed by VAGA, NY NY)

South Carolinians look with pride on the achievements of Jasper Johns, an internationally known artist who has astonished critics and collectors alike with the beauty, invention, and intelligence of his work. Born in 1930 in Augusta, Georgia and raised in South Carolina, Johns moved to New York in the early 1950s and became friends with artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage, and Merce Cunningham, each of whom shared a passion for bringing the experiences of daily life into art.

Johns has been best known for his iconic images of flags, targets, numerals, and alphabets. Beginning in 1983, however, he pursued a wide range of new imagery, much of it intensely personal and drawn from things that surrounded him at home, from past artworks, and from childhood memories. In Past Things and Present, one can find allusions to faucets, faces, watches, and Picasso paintings. The exhibition gives ample voice to several themes the artist developed during the past twenty years, such as the cycle of seasons, fragments of old master paintings, the art of children, and the catenary-a curve formed by string draped between two points.   

Green Angel and the Museum's 1991 untitled Johns encaustic are among other images that are repeated through the exhibition. Johns has been reluctant to explain Green Angel, whose ambiguous form floats intriguingly through multiple paintings and prints. In the Museum's 1991 canvas, Johns expounds on a drawing by a young girl who developed schizophrenia after losing both her parents. Identity and nurturing are the central themes of the work, and those same images reappear in later works. (right: Caternary, 1998, encaustic on canvas with objects, Collection Dr. Paul and Dorie Sternberg, Glencoe Il. © Jasper Johns, licensed by VAGA, New York, NY)

Past Things and Present: Jasper Johns since 1983 was organized by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. A richly illustrated catalogue of the exhibition will be available for sale in the Museum Shop. Following its showing in Greenville, the exhibition travels to Ireland, Scotland, and Spain.

The exhibition, which opens to the public on March 24 and runs through May 23, 2004, will be complemented by a series of educational programs and free guided tours.

Related events include a lecture at 6:30 p.m. on April 22 by Dr. Roberta Bernstein of the University of Albany (NY), an art historian who has written and lectured extensively on the artist's work. Greenville Curator Martha R. Severens will lead a gallery talk in the exhibition on April 18 at 2 p.m. The Center for Museum Education is planning an encaustic workshop with visiting artist Cheryl Goldsleger on Saturday, April 17, from 9:30­4:30.   Groups of ten or more can make reservations for free guided tours by calling 864/271-7570, extension 17. (left: Face with Watch, 1996, intaglio on paper, Collection Walker Art Center Minneapolis, Gift of the artist © Jasper Johns, licensed by VAGA, New York, NY)


rev. 3/9/04

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