Friday, October 15th (The Whitney & Chelsea Galleries)

Friday, October 15th (The Whitney & Chelsea Galleries)

Whitney Museum:

Philadelphia Museum of Art:

Jasper Johns Exhibition:

Today we were in Manhattan to see the Jasper Johns show at the Whitney. Later in the afternoon we went to see approximately 6 or 7 galleries around Chelsea. The show Jasper Johns, Mind/Mirror displays around 500 works of art arranged chronologically from 1954 through to today. According to the Whitney website the show features “…his most iconic works along with many others shown for the first time, it comprises a broad range of paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures” ( Interestingly, this exhibition is also combined with a show in Philadelphia at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. These two museums are both institutions that Johns had a long standing relationship with. The two, together, function as a massive retrospective that examines John’s fascination with mirroring and doubles. As a result, each of the exhibitions across the two museums reflect each other to add to this theme. 

While I knew of John’s work, as an art history student, I have never spent much time analyzing it, nor had I ever seen his pieces in person. I found his use of everyday objects to be very interesting. I’m not exactly sure if I like it, but it was something that I wasn’t expecting and it took me off guard. I also really liked the beginning section of the exhibit, dealing with maps and flags. I think the ideas of patriotism and the symbols that represent it are really interesting and have a unique legacy in the history of art. I also think they are extremely valuable to examine during the recent political chaos of today’s modern world. I was also struck by the range of work and the amount of work. Each section was devoted to a different area of his life whether it be his romantic relationship with Robert Rauschenburg, his life his hometown of Connecticut, his friendship with Marcel Duschamp, his prints, or even his interest in americana (such as the flags and maps). The exhibition presented a catalogue of a never ending, constantly changing evolution of a singular artist. The size and texture of his work were also intriguing. Many of his works feature sculptural aspects, such as 3D elements embedded into a canvas painting. He also uses a technique called encaustic, which is a wax and pigment mixture. It gave his paintings a lot of texture, an almost paper mache feeling that can be felt from a fair distance as well as up close. I thought this idea of object vs. art addressed the question of what is art very well. It reimagines the way everyday objects are used in order to show a new perspective. 

After the Whitney museum, we traveled around a small portion of Chelsea to see a number of galleries. Funnily, there was a lot of overlap in these galleries – I’m guessing it was mostly unintentional. The first gallery we saw, Gogosian, featured the work of a well known sculptor by the name of John Chamberlain. I, again, am not sure if I like these works but they were something new and different to look at. I found myself thinking more about the process of making them, rather than thinking about their meaning. The next gallery, which happened to be right next door, was showing the work of another artist who used tires to construct towers of what looked like woven rubber. I think the theme of today was re-examining what art means and what it means to make art, especially uncommon art made using common objects. We also visited a large, museum-like gallery called the Pace gallery. This gallery was showing some of the works of Robert Rauchenburg, who was intimately involved with Jasper Johns. It was interesting to see his work in comparison to John’s. However, I am not a fan of his work. It feels very derivative and each canvas is jampacked with things to look at. I get overwhelmed when looking at his pieces. 

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