Published: October 14, 2003
The Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) is presenting an important exhibition by one of America’s foremost artists, Jasper Johns (born 1930), which is the first in-depth exploration of his use of numbers as a subject, as well as a major exhibition of works on paper by the Twentieth Century’s most important artists from the well-known private collection of native Clevelander and nationally recognized philanthropist Agnes Gund.
Thirty-nine pieces between 1955 and 1996 lent by the artist, private collectors and museums in the United States and Europe will show how Johns treats a similar theme in subtle variations using a variety of media. “Jasper Johns: Numbers” will be on view from October 26 to January 11, then continues to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (February 1-April 18, 2004).
Also on view from October 26 to January 11, the Gund collection exhibit features 65 works by 57 artists, representing some of the major movements of the Twentieth Century, including Pop art, minimalism, conceptual art and more recent trends in figuration and abstraction. It offers visitors a glimpse into the private realm of one person’s temperament, passions and connoisseurship in creating a singular collection. Artists in the exhibition include Louise Bourgeois, Arshile Gorky, Eva Hesse, Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Paul Klee, Roy Lichtenstein, Brice Marden, Bruce Nauman, Roni Horn, Robert Rauschenberg, Dorothea Rockburne, Cy Twombly, Gabriel Orozco, Glenn Ligon, William Kentridge, Frank Stella and Rosemary Trockel.
“Jasper Johns: Numbers” was inspired by the museum’s 2001 acquisition of a set of charcoal drawings by Johns, “Ten Numbers,” 1960. The CMA’s curator of drawings Carter Foster and guest curator Roberta Bernstein, professor of art history at the State University of New York, Albany, conceived the show as a focused, carefully chosen group of objects that elucidate the subtlety and complexity of Johns’s treatment of this motif throughout his career.
Built over the past 35 years, Gund’s comprehensive collection has become rich in works from the 1950s to today. Highlights of the exhibition include Vitrine-Flipbook Drawings, 1999, by William Kentridge (South African, born 1955), renowned worldwide for his animated films made from charcoal drawings as well as his theater productions focusing on the complex and often violent history of South Africa. These drawings, rendered directly on sheets from a Catalan grammar text, represent images that create a brief narrative that shows an average man with desires and strictures created by culture, technology and politics.
Chuck Close’s (American, born 1940) “John/Finger-print,” 1983, is part of a group that he “painted” in stages, applying each of three basic hues (magenta, cyan and yellow, as in the color-printing process) separately so that they fused on paper to create the full-color image. Here, by contrast, he used his fingers to apply stamp-pad ink in these three hues directly to the paper.
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