Jasper Johns GRAY
November 3, 2007-January 6, 2008
OVERVIEW arrow  
PRESS arrow


Jasper Johns. Target, 1958.

Jasper Johns. Target, 1958. Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Saul. Art © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Photo: Jamie M. Stukenberg / Professional Graphics Inc.
Jasper Johns: Gray
November 3, 2007–January 6, 2008
Regenstein Hall and Galleries 262–273

Special tickets are not required for this exhibition.

As one of the most acclaimed and influential living artists, Jasper Johns has been the subject of numerous exhibitions, many of which have explored his signature use of flags, numbers, and other emblems. This exhibition emerges from broader studies of Johns's approach to form, examining for the first time the artist's use of gray in his paintings, sculptures, prints, and drawings from 1955 to the present. Featuring more than 130 works and including major new works that have never been exhibited publicly, the exhibition tracks Johns's application of gray for more than five decades—an investigation that provides a framework for understanding the development of the artist's entire oeuvre.

Every one of Johns's major iconic, serialized forms has been, at one stage or another, articulated in gray. The intellectual and emotional significance of this color in his work has changed remarkably since 1955, when he used it initially as a statement of skepticism, quietude, or anticipation. Gray has since evolved in Johns's work as an agent in a profound examination of the very meaning of color itself. The predominance of gray in his recent Catenary series, which self-consciously summarizes the artist's career, takes on new meaning in the context of this exhibition's thesis.

Gray is further considered as a material condition. For Johns it seems the most appropriate hue or tone to present a "conceptual" art as it stimulates vision the least and therefore facilitates the presentation of ideas. Conversely, gray has been, for the artist, a vehicle for thinking about color through its absence. Indeed some of his most expressively rich statements are made in gray.

Jasper Johns: Gray is organized by the Art Institute of Chicago, in cooperation with The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

James Rondeau, Frances and Thomas Dittmer Curator and Chair, Department of Contemporary Art, and Douglas Druick, Searle Curator and Chair, Department of Medieval to Modern European Painting and Sculpture, and Prince Trust Curator and Chair, Department of Prints and Drawings

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, February 5–May 4, 2008

The exhibition is made possible by Kenneth and Anne Griffin. Major funding is generously provided by the Harris Family Foundation in memory of Bette and Neison Harris.

The project is also supported by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. An indemnity is provided by the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

A major exhibition catalogue includes essays by James Rondeau; Douglas Druick; Mark Pascale, associate curator, prints and drawings, Art Institute of Chicago; Richard Shiff, Effie Marie Cain Regents Chair in Art, University of Texas-Austin; Barbara Rose, noted Johns scholar; and Kelly Keegan, assistant painting conservator, and Kristin Lister, conservator of paintings, Art Institute of Chicago; as well as an interview with the artist by Nan Rosenthal, senior consultant, Department of 19th-Century, Modern, and Contemporary Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The catalogue is available in the Museum Shop.

back to top

© 2007 The Art Institute of Chicago. 111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, 60603-6404. | Terms and Conditions
All text and images on this site are protected by U.S. and international copyright laws. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
technical questions: