Jasper Johns’s groundbreaking work sent shock waves through the art world when it was first shown in the late 1950s, and he has continued to challenge new audiences – and himself – over a career spanning more than sixty-five years. He was born in 1930 in Augusta, Georgia; spent the majority of his adult life in New York; and today lives in Sharon, Connecticut, where, at the age of ninety-one, he remains active in his studio. Johns’s early use of common objects and motifs, language, and inventive materials and formats upended conventional notions of what an artwork is and can be. His profoundly generative practice helped spark movements including Pop art, Minimalism, and Conceptualism, among others, and has inspired successive generations of artists to this day.
Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror is the most comprehensive retrospective ever devoted to Johns’s art. Featuring his most iconic works along with many others shown for the first time, it comprises a broad range of paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures from 1954 to today across two sites. Conceived as a whole but displayed in two distinct parts, the exhibition appears simultaneously here at the Whitney and at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, two institutions with which Johns has had long-standing relationships. This unique dual structure draws on the artist’s lifelong fascination with mirroring and doubles, so that each half of the exhibition echoes and reflects the other. Organized in largely chronological order, the retrospective presents pairs of related galleries – one in each city – that offer varied perspectives on the artist’s turns of mind. Individually, each gallery focuses on a particular aspect of Johns’s thought and work through the lens of different themes, processes, images, mediums, and even emotional states. Taken together, they provide an immersive exploration of the many phases, treasures, and mysteries of a radical, enduring, and still-evolving career.