Throughout his career, contemporary American artist Jasper Johns, now 82, has found new ways to explore, as he once put it, “how we see and why we see the way we do.” Continually reinventing his own work, he has driven key transformation in the art world for nearly 60 years. On view at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) from November 3, 2012, through February 3, 2013, Jasper Johns: Seeing with the Mind’s Eye surveys the full scope of Johns’s achievements and also reflects the very particular interest in his art in the San Francisco Bay Area.
This major exhibition, the first museum overview in San Francisco in 35 years, was organized in close cooperation between Jasper Johns and Gary Garrels, SFMOMA’s Elise S. Haas Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture, who has been a longtime advocate of Johns in the Bay Area. Ranging across Johns’s entire career—from his breakthrough paintings of the 1950s, which paved the way for the subsequent development of Pop art and Minimalism, to his most recent work—the survey offers a rich overview of the visual and philosophical inquiries central to Johns’s practice and illuminates his enormous impact on artistic developments following Abstract Expressionism.
The presentation also celebrates the significant holdings of Johns’s work in the region, bringing together for the first time some 90 paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints from SFMOMA and other local and private collections as well as several key works lent by the artist himself, including a large recent canvas that will be on view to the public for the first time.
“In reviewing Johns’s career, what becomes evident at every stage is the endless curiosity and discipline of the artist, and the astonishing level of ambition and quality of the work,” says Garrels. “His art and thinking continually inspire other artists, as well as some of the field’s most incisive critical writing. Johns has always been a prime instigator of change, and it makes sense that his art would strike a chord with collectors and museums over the past few decades in the Bay Area with its legacy of innovation.”