Friday, July 31, 2009
Jasper Johns ~ The Critic Smiles, part of Closer to Home
Having spent most of my travel budget for this year, I was disappointed yesterday to read that there's a Jasper Johns' exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum (probably won't be going). But then I remembered that The Critic Smiles, our piece of the week here at Fifty Two Pieces, is part of an exhibit entitled "Closer to Home" at the Portland Art Museum. Not getting the same press as the Escher or Tattoo exhibits, "Closer to Home" is a very solid one and includes many etchings and classic lead reliefs. The Critic Smiles, one of those reliefs hangs just to the right of the elevator in the Center for Modern and Contemporary Art. Reaching back into time, Johns could have easily been referring to Sir Walter Scott's famous quote: “Court not the critic's smile nor dread his frown”.
Other prints in the show include The Seasons (Summer) one of four etchings with aquatint of all the seasons. Jasper Johns created these in the mid '80s. Like The Critic Smiles, Summer uses an artistic and literary tradition employed by many – the four seasons and the four ages of man. When you look at Summer or any of the other etchings of the seasons, you'll find John's shadow, an imprint of his arm and also a palm that marks the progress of the seasons and the aging of man. In addition, Johns has incorporated a small hummingbird in Summer, as well as a Mona Lisa and any number of other appropriated images. As a side note, Johns' shadow was originally traced from a template made by a friend in the strong sunlight of Saint-Martin in the French West Indies. Enjoy Summer in the cool air conditioning of the Portland Art Museum.