Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

A Negation of Impulses.(Journal North)

Byline: About Art Tom Collins For the Journal

Jasper Johns' work asks the implied question: what is art, what is real, and what is the difference?

As every art fan knows, it's a mere academic exercise to connect the dots from Abstract Expressionism through the post-AE twin towers of Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns to Andy Warhol and Pop, to Minimalism and all the way to the post-modern, post-minimal Now. But it's that intermediate dot -- Rauschenberg and Johns -- that is the mysterious, catalytic lynchpin joining it all together that attracts our curiosity. The current exhibition at the Harwood Museum in Taos of four decades of prints by Johns, on loan from the Belger Arts Center for Creative Studies of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, offers us an opportunity to reconsider this seminal American artist's immense intellectual and artistic achievement.

Born in Augusta, Ga., in 1930, Jasper Johns was raised by grandparents and an aunt and uncle in Allendale, S.C., after his parents divorced. After a brief year's reunion with his mother and new stepfather in Columbia, he was shunted off to another aunt in a tiny rural community called (rather chillingly) The Corners, where for the next six years he lived and attended the one-room schoolhouse in which his aunt taught all grades. (Years later at a Museum of Modern Art opening, a woman impressed with the artist's dignified and charming manner surmised that he must be descended from Southern aristocracy. "No, I'm just poor white trash," Johns replied.)

According to Johns, he always wanted to be an artist and though he displayed talent and his grandmother painted, there were certainly no artists around where he grew up to provide any role models. …

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