I am on a much needed Christmas/New Year break, and so yesterday I visited the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Before seeing the exhibition Jasper Johns and Edvard Munch: Love, Loss, and the Cycle of Life, I didn’t realize how Jasper Johns was influenced by Edvard Munch. This wasn’t my first time seeing Jasper Johns’ artwork: prints (lithographs, etchings), drawings, paintings, encaustic, and tableau pieces. But it was the first time I’ve seen a comparison or homage like dual exhibition which included artwork by his inspiration Edvard Munch. That’s right the pieces selected, between the two artists, had visible and conceptual connections with one another. I found myself stepping back and moving my head back and forth (like a tennis match), in comparing the two. It’s impossible but I imagined the influenced (work in the 60s-80s) rallying with the influencer (work created in the early 1900’s). I also did the same thing (double takes) when looking at Jasper Johns variety of the same subject matter translated in different media.
Beware, when it comes to printmaking I’m a close looker, and my face is in it! I want to see the texture, look for stone/plate edges, glare at the details, see the paper selection, and guess which layer came first. Both artists had lithographs and etchings in the exhibition. Some of my favorite pieces were Jasper Johns’ ink drawings on film/acetate. The smaller drawings and watercolor paintings of his larger cross-hatch (abstract motif) oil paintings I would have thought were studies, but many of them came after the larger pieces. And they weren’t just smaller copies but further experimentations of color and technique.
Both artists’ works were intertwined as they shared the exhibition space, but there seemed to be more rooms that mostly housed Jasper Johns’ work. The series that piqued my interest was toward the end of the exhibition, The Seasons (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter), created in the 80’s.
Well this blog is long enough I’ll tell you what I thought of The Seasons next time, and I am definitely going to see the show again..it’s up until Feb 20th.