I went up to the Upper East Side to visit a few galleries. It’s a little weird since you need to be buzzed in to many of these and I always wonder if I look “enough” like someone who visits art galleries, especially when I’m walking around in paint and ink-stained jeans like I was yesterday. But I got in, so I should just get used to this wierdness and the pretention that comes along with visiting these galleries.
My first stop, since it was the reason I made this trek. 11 works in many different media and at many different sizes but all based on the crosshatch that Johns has used extensively, especially during the 70s/80s when all of these works are from.
I am drawn to these works as they seem to be Scratching at the surface, asking “what’s underneath?”. It was especially interesting as many of the works on display were accompanied by the same work done in a different medium or just slightly differently. Looking at Cicada, in both a dark and light variant, you can see how Johns sprinkles additional colors in that you need to look for. These paintings take the same form and at first glance are inverts of each other, but they require you to look a bit closer to truly appreciate the differences.
The three Corpse and Mirror / Corpse and Mirror II pieces are similiarly the same but simultaniusly very different. In the Gouache, graphite wash, and graphite pencil on paper version, there is a prominent X in the upper right that is missing in the red/yellow/blue colorful watercolor version and then is present due to knife work on the large acrylic Corpse and Mirror II.
Between the Clock and The Bed is a piece that I spent a lot of 2018 thinking about, both the original Munch that I saw at the Met Brauer and Johns take on it. I have a few sketches on my own variant from when I was caring for my mom in her final days. This is the first pastel I can remember seeing of Johns.
I’m left wanting to figure out what a Graphite Wash is as it’s a term I haven’t seen before. I also am more excited than ever for Johns retrospective at the Whitney and Philadelphia later this year. I also wonder just how much work he has that hasn’t seen the light of day or has only minimally been viewed. I am reaffirmed that visiting the same idea over and over is ok.
Some incredibly abstract works that at times felt like homages to pain, and others the resilience that comes from conquering it. The brick was the best part, with the Shinx being an especially interesting piece.
I want to figure out how to work with paper more which has been something I’ve gone back to more and more recently. I need to remember canvas shouldn’t be the only destination for my work.
These prints are getting me a little excited for the major exhibition The Met Braur will be putting on later this year. For these, the techniques were the most interesting part. I’ve been thinking more and more about unique editions and wonder if doing some additional ones besides my WP15 series and the elephants I made for my team last year would be fun.