Critical Debate – Jasper Johns

Following the trip to London to see the Jasper Johns exhibition at the Royal Academy we based the critical debate on the visit.

+”Critical consensus” 1955-70 is a great the art made after is not his best work

+ 0 through 9, 1961

0 through 9 1961 by Jasper Johns born 1930


the most prominent numbers of the paintings are three and four, is this due to the methods of the paining? or is it because of the fact that the painting was not made with strict planning?

Davids opinion- the paintings look better as reproductions and lack in real life

“Take an object, do something to it, do something else to it”

Are they painted in sequence or drawn and painted at once

-Basalisk, Inverted paintings

+Gerhard Richter – uses grey in paintings as its the most dull of the colours, is this the same as Johns using the primary colours??

+Target – is the paining a target or is it a painting of a target (Also applies to Flag)

At the height of Abstract Expressionism, However is abstract expressionism dead? Using Greenburg’s theory you see the painting, then what the painting is of, e.g. you see the flag, then you see its a painting of a flag.

+Painting With Two Balls, 1960

End of the line for abstract expressionism

+Is he not fitting in with abstract expressionism  ( his work placed between William De Kooning and Clyfford Still) Does he want his gesture to go somewhere else? e.g. 0 through 9

Encaustic- Is this limiting his mark making or enhancing it? // The medium will dry quickly (making his work even more difficult to be gestural)

Jasper Johns – a painting about a painting not a direct painting// do we look past the marks to understand the painting

+ Painting with Two balls, 1960

The marks have no meaning? Is the commentary about the relationship with Rauchenburg? or about Abstract Expressionism? He did want to cut out the canvas to get the balls squeezed in the canvas, however, he had to make the canvas shaped to fit the balls.

Johns vs. Warhol

Painted Bronze 1960 “hand cast beer cans painted to look like beer cans” He had also painted the shading onto the casts, and also added letters to look real yet painted.

Andy Warhol, Brillo Box, 1962

When Warhol’s screen printed he wants it to look like when you would buy it



Fools House, 1962 // Watchman 1964

Spoke of as a studio reference // Is it a ‘side stripe’ at abstract expressionism (people who used brooms for paintings) Pedantic/Ambiguity

+Painting bitten by a man, 1961

It seems as if the bite is emerging from the painting



+(Savarin Coffee) Painted Bronze, 1960

in a sense it is a readymade, how-ever it has since been casted and painted

(Duchamp original urinal was smashed, then he wanted to recreate it, unreal no longer made/ ceramicist made ‘original’ unreal ofter tedious plans act.)

+Racing Shorts, 1983

+Ventriloquist, 1983



Are painted to look like puzzles are we wanted to solve the puzzles? Or does he want us to never solve the paintings?

-Barry Moser, Moby Dick, 1979

in the left panel Moby Dick is featured

-Regrets, 2013



about seeing other images in the image

at this point in his career he ‘defaults back to his idea of multiplying to confuse’


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