Jasper Johns (b. 1930) has fundamentally challenged ideas about what art can be by focusing on everyday icons and emblems, or what the artist famously referred to as "things the mind already knows." While perhaps best known for his paintings, Johns is also widely respected for his graphic work, which has occupied a central role in his oeuvre for over five decades. Johns' prints not only show a mastery of the various mediums he has engaged, but also a profound sense of experimentation, which has had significant impact not only on his own art, but also on the field itself. Printmaking has allowed Johns to explore various methods for interpreting icons, emblems, and objects—such as numbers, letters, maps, targets, and ale cans—while also expanding the possibilities for printmaking. Several of his prints make reference to the artist's work in other media, yet they are not mere copies or reproductions. Rather, Johns has consistently returned to such motifs in order to explore new methods and techniques that would allow him to reinterpret and engage these subjects again.
This exhibition comprises selections from one of the richest private collections of Jasper Johns' prints, that of the Jordan D. Schnitzer Family Foundation. Beginning with a rare monoprint from 1954, the exhibition will showcase almost twenty years of Johns' work. The majority are lithographs, reflecting the importance the process has had for Johns since his early experiments with the renowned publisher Tatyana Grosman at Universal Limited Art Editions (ULAE) in 1960. Also included are lead reliefs, screenprints, and prints that use embossing, which show Johns' interest in, and engagement with, the various processes, methods, and materials of printmaking, even at this early stage. In addition to illustrating Johns' technical skill, the prints in the exhibition present the quotidian and often enigmatic motifs that are central to his art. From the works in the series 0–9 (1963) to the complex layers of objects and meanings in Decoy II (1973), the exhibition reveals the skillful and poetic way in which Johns has consistently advanced contemporary printmaking, while also expanding the visual vocabulary and technical possibilities of art.
The Fralin Museum of Art's programming is made possible by the generous support of The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation.
The exhibition is made possible through the generous support of the Suzanne Foley Endowment Fund, the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation, albemarle Magazine, and Ivy Publications LLC's Charlottesville Welcome Book.