Jasper Johns: Something Resembling Truth

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Adam Tendler in performance. Photo: © Steve Pisano. Joan La Barbara dancing in tape. Photo: © Hank O’Neal.

LOS ANGELES—The Broad today announced a diverse slate of public programming to be presented in conjunction with the museum’s new special exhibition, Jasper Johns: ‘Something Resembling Truth’, the first full survey of Jasper Johns’ six-decade career in Southern California in more than 50 years. Encompassing music, performance, dance, poetry and live discussion, the programs will explore the artists and art forms that inspired Johns and some of his most important works, providing a richer understanding of the iconic American artist who has inspired generations of artists practicing in Los Angeles and around the world.

“It is impossible to reflect on Johns’ complex and enigmatic body of work without considering the impact of his deep and collaborative friendships with artists like composer John Cage, choreographer and dancer Merce Cunningham, as well as his love of the writing of Hart Crane, Samuel Beckett and Frank O’Hara,” said Ed Patuto, The Broad’s director of audience engagement. “By presenting an interdisciplinary series of programs which highlight these artists, we hope to illuminate how they influenced and informed Johns’ work. In addition, these programs will provide vital insights into his creative practice and his paintings.”
The Broad will present a series of programs over the exhibition’s 13-week run, beginning with a conversation with Roberta Bernstein, co-curator of the exhibition, and host curators Joanne Heyler, The Broad’s founding director, and Ed Schad, associate curator at The Broad, on Feb. 10, the opening day of the exhibition. They will discuss such topics as Johns as one of the most important artists to emerge in the last century and his essential influence on younger artists. The museum will host Cross-Hatched, a series consisting of three live performances of music, vocal performances and dance films programmed with live accompaniment and Fluxus performances. Co-curated and performed by pianist Adam Tendler, a recognized interpreter of modern American music who has performed the work of John Cage internationally, these programs explore the ongoing dialogue between Johns’ paintings and the dance and music that inspired him and to which he directly contributed. The program series was developed by Tendler and Patuto with valuable input and permissions from the John Cage Trust and the Merce Cunningham Trust.
Word play is vital to Johns’ creative practice, with literary references to his favorite authors abundant in his paintings and their titles. Johns’ deployment of words, letters and numbers on the surface of his paintings evoke an ambiguity in their meaning in the same manner his representation of everyday objects, such as targets, maps and flags, calls into question their truthfulness as objects. To explore the centrality of authors and poets to Johns’ work, The Broad and The Library Foundation of Los Angeles’ ALOUD series will present the Unfolding Language Literary Series, two evenings of contemporary authors reading texts from Johns’ literary muses, including Samuel Beckett, Ted Berrigan, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Hart Crane, Frank O’Hara, and Herman Melville, in addition to reading from their own work.
The Broad and Carol Muske-Dukes, award-winning poet and professor of English at the University of Southern California, will present a one-night public reading for National Poetry Month in April. The reading will be the consummation of an ongoing collaborative process between image and word; the event will feature Muske-Dukes’ current PhD students reading poems they have written that were inspired by works featured in the exhibition.
Jasper Johns: ‘Something Resembling Truth’, organized in collaboration with the Royal Academy, London, will feature more than 120 of the artist’s most significant paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings. With loans from more than 50 public and private collections from around the world, including important works from the Broad collection, the exhibition will trace the evolution of the artist’s six-decade career through a series of thematic chapters. The exhibition encompasses the full range of Johns’ materials, motifs and techniques—including his unique use of encaustic (heated beeswax) and found-material collage in paintings—and the innovations he has achieved in sculpture and the graphic arts by expanding the possibilities of traditional media. Johns’ use of accessible images will be thoroughly examined, seen continually transformed through the artist’s engagement with a wide range of human experiences. In a departure from a retrospective approach, Johns’ artistic achievements will be illuminated through the juxtaposition of early and late works throughout the exhibition.
Tickets and full program details, including artist and curator bios, for all Jasper Johns: ‘Something Resembling Truth’ special exhibition programs are available at www.thebroad.org/programs.
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