CAMBRIDGE, MASS.- The Harvard Art Museums
present Jasper Johns / In Press: The Crosshatch Works and the Logic of Print, an exhibition that centers on the artists signature crosshatch works in the Harvard Art Museums collections and explores the impact of print on his oeuvre. The exhibition is the first that examines print and the press with reference not only to Johnss experiments in printmaking, but also to print as a medium of information transfer, tracing his frequent use of newsprint and its temporal, political, and formal implications. Over twenty works are on display, including prints, drawings, and one painting by Johns. Also featured is comparative material exploring Johnss relationship to the history of printing. Jasper Johns / In Press is on display May 22August 18, 2012 at the Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, 485 Broadway, Cambridge, MA.
This exhibition, which began as a spring 2011 undergraduate course in Harvards History of Art and Architecture Department, was curated by Jennifer L. Roberts, Professor of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University; with assistance from Jennifer Quick, PhD candidate, Department of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University, and Agnes Mongan Curatorial Intern, Harvard Art Museums; Susan Dackerman, Director of Academic Programs and Carl A. Weyerhaeuser Curator of Prints, Harvard Art Museums; and four Harvard College undergraduates: Jacob Cedarbaum, C. Andrew Krantz, Mary Potter, and Phillip Y. Zhang. The goal of the course was to create an exhibition that examined Jasper Johnss encaustic-and-collage painting The Dutch Wives (1975) and its relationship to other works in the Art Museums collections. The students developed the theme for the exhibition, chose the artworks to be included, and wrote essays for a complementary digital publication. Working with Roberts, Jennifer Quick produced the texts that serve as entries in the printed exhibition catalogue. The result of this curricular and collaborative venture is a groundbreaking exhibition that examines Johnss overall artistic practice and reads it through his interest in and exploitation of different printmaking techniques and their metaphorical and material implications.
The exhibition includes key loans from Jasper Johns (The Dutch Wives, 1975), Jean Christophe Castelli (Cicada, 1979; Gray Alphabets, 1960, Painting with Two Balls I, 1962; and Usuyuki, 1981), and Harvards Houghton Library (Hatching [front endpaper], from Foirades/Fizzles by Johns and Samuel Beckett, 1976), along with prints by Johns from the Harvard Art Museums collections. The lithograph Corpse and Mirror (1976) was acquired by the Art Museums especially for the exhibition. Works on paper by Albrecht Dürer, Sol LeWitt, Pablo Picasso, and Frank Stella, as well as examples of ancient cylinder seals, complement the display and show other aspects of printmaking.
Two films by American artist Katy Martin will also be shown in the gallery. Hanafuda/Jasper Johns (197881), DVD from Super 8mm film, color, 35 minutes, documents Johns at work on the screenprints Cicada and Usuyuki, both of which are on display in the exhibition. Silkscreens (1978), DVD from Super 8mm film, color, 20 minutes, sound by Richard Teitelbaum, shows printmakers working on The Dutch Wives (1977), a twenty-nine-screen print executed two years after the painting of the same name. An example of this print also hangs in the exhibition.
Ultimately, we aim to provide the first sustained investigation of the centrality of print for Johnss work in all media, said Jennifer L. Roberts. The logic of print informs Johnss entire oeuvrehis paintings, sculpture, and drawings, in other words, are just as printerly as his prints. The broader impact of Johnss workits radical divergence from its mid-century antecedents and the new model of making and meaning that it installed for modern and contemporary artderives largely from its engagement with print processes.
This exhibition lays the groundwork for future curricular and collaborative efforts that will make use of the renovated and expanded Harvard Art Museums building, which will be a state-of-the-art facility for innovative teaching and learning. Key goals are to train students and emerging scholars in art history, visual thinking, curatorial practice, and conservation science. The Art Museums unique resources make such objectives possible: not only are their collections exceptional in quality and size, but the new facility also will have substantial gallery space dedicated to use by students and faculty. These galleries will present a forum in which to teach curatorial practice and exhibition-making, providing the chance for both undergraduates and graduate students to learn how to spatialize arguments using artworks and other objects.
Our goal has been to integrate students and faculty into every possible aspect of exhibition planning and production, including choosing objects, conducting research, writing interpretive materials, and participating in the installation, commented Susan Dackerman. Such a class and project provides students with a hands-on curatorial experience that enables better understanding of museum practices that will benefit them well beyond their undergraduate years.