LOS ANGELES — Jasper Johns’ decision more than 60 years ago to paint a picture of an American flag launched what became one of the most heralded artistic careers of modern times.
So it’s fitting The Broad’s latest exhibition, “Jasper Johns: Something Resembling Truth,” begins with a first-floor gallery filled with nearly a dozen of Johns’ most celebrated U.S. flag paintings.
From there, the exhibition goes on to display more than 100 other works, filling gallery after gallery and ranging from paintings and drawings to bronze and metal sculptures and an array of stunning multimedia creations.
The works span more than six decades and compose what Broad officials say is one of the largest retrospectives assembled for the 87-year-old artist, whose work helped launch the pop art movement and later merged it with conceptualism, abstract expressionism and other forms.
“It is well-known that Jasper Johns changed the 20th century artistically,” Broad curator and director Joanne Heyler said before leading a media tour through the exhibition in February. “Johns helped move the conversation of art to a new and exciting place by rejecting the established style of the time, the gestural bravura of abstract expression.”
The exhibition was put together with loans from dozens of museums, private collectors and the artist himself. Although Johns, who lives in Connecticut, hasn’t seen it and museum officials don’t know if he will, Broad co-curator Ed Schad says the artist was intimately involved in its assembling.
“We sent him a full wooden model of our museum with everything to scale, everything placed, then we went to Sharon, Conn., and met with him and worked with him to finalize the exhibition,” he said. “I would absolutely love it if he came to see it.”
The exhibit runs through May
Like Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha and other contemporaries, Johns took art in a different direction in the 1950s and early ’60s with his decision to focus on intricately detailed, finely crafted interpretations of everyday objects.
Although best-known to the general public for his flag paintings and drawings, his other prominent works include numerous interpretations of bull’s-eye-like targets, sculptures of everyday things such as numerals and flashlights, painted copies of cross-hatched etchings he saw on a passing car, and mixed-media paintings with the cans, brushes and other objects he used in their making attached to them.
Prominent among the several mixed-media works on display are 1964’s The Watchman, an acclaimed abstract painting that has a partial manikin seated upside-down in an attached chair. Another, Field, includes a red neon light and other letters and items attached to an oil-on-canvas creation.
Sculptures from Johns’ own collection include his bronzed flashlights and slices of “bread.”
“I wanted to make a 3-D format that would sit on a flat surface,” he said of the bronzes in notes for the show. “I wanted it to be something that already existed, and it came to me in a flash, the idea of a flashlight.”
For more information, call (213) 232-6250 or visit thebroad.org .
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