Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Jasper Johns ~ Racing Thoughts, another gray piece
Racing Thoughts is a drawing that was included in the show "Jasper Johns: Gray" that I mentioned two days ago. Like so many of his drawings it was completed after the original painting of the same name. The painting was done in 1983 and the drawing a year later. Look closely and you'll see the work is divided into a diptych. On the left are the cross-hatches that became synonymous with his work. The right side is the wall of one of his homes. Look for the nail that casts a shadow. That abstract rectangle near the nail some say is either by Robert Rauschenberg or Barnett Newman – you choose. Right next to it is a danger sign with skull and cross bones, an interesting companion piece.
If you haven't already seen the faucet to Johns' bathtub take a look in the bottom right hand corner. Visually, let your eye move diagonally to the left and you'll see an image of Leo Castelli. Castelli was Johns' art dealer for many years and was a major influence in his life. While you're looking at Castelli, take a peek over at the Mona Lisa. Those two smiles are equally enigmatic. Down below the Mona Lisa are two vases. The white one some say has two human profiles. The images on it if you look just right are Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, again the image deciphering is left to the viewer.
Racing Thoughts has many images, icons for the viewer to ponder. Imagine yourself in that bathtub, thinking about life. What is real, what is imaginary? In the end is your imagination any less real than what may have actually happened?