JOHNS, JASPER. REDO AN EYE

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Roberta Bernstein, New Haven, 2017.

Hardcover, 346 pp., 374 color, 17 b/w illus.

“My work is largely concerned with relations between seeing and knowing, seeing and saying, seeing and believing.”—Jasper Johns, 1965

Spanning over 60 years of Jasper Johns’s (b. 1930) prolific career, this spectacular publication is the most comprehensive and definitive study of the artist’s work to date. Written by noted Johns expert Roberta Bernstein, the book explores the synergy between continuity and change in the development of the artist’s work through 2014. The text is enlivened by the voluminous insight Bernstein has gained over decades of knowing the artist, and she incorporates Johns’s own unique manner of talking about his art through interviews and public statements. Each chapter is focused on a specific time period and its prevailing themes in Johns’s paintings and sculptures, and throughout the book related drawing and prints are referenced as contributions to an advanced understanding of the work.

The book’s compelling subtitle (the phrase appears, camouflaged, in Johns’s 1966 painting Passage II), indicating an “eye” and an exhortation to “redo” it, neatly summarizes a persistent aspect of Johns’s art.  His works—at turns ambiguous, ironic, and poignant—simultaneously engage the visual senses and challenge habits of perception. Jasper Johns: Redo an Eye is a thoughtful celebration of how Johns’s art inspires the viewer to resist habits of perception, in turn affecting the way one experiences and interacts with the world: the hallmark of an extraordinary artist. 

"New information and fresh insights spring from every page of this book.  Roberta Bernstein leads the reader through Jasper Johns' magisterial body of work with compelling readable prose that conveys clear thinking and scrupulous research.  This beautifully illustrated work exemplifies art history grounded in close and patient looking, far-reaching erudition, and deep sensitivity to one's subject matter." 

Ann Temkin

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