Friday, January 5, 2018

Jasper Johns at the Royal Academy

Jasper Johns' "Flag"
In a review of the Jasper Johns retrospective, 'Something Resembling Truth,' at the Royal Academy of Arts ("The only one seeing these things," TLS, 11/24/17) Paul Keegan remarks, "Dostoevsky said of Russian literature that in 'we all came out of Gogol’s Overcoat’; Pop art and minimalism and conceptualism have all been said to come out of John’s flag.” That's a big and wondrous statement encompassing everything from The Brothers Karamazov to Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Can. You can’t help thinking about the tortured Russian master toiling away in his modest garret and producing his work about the iconic bureaucrat Akaky Akakievich, whose stolen overcoat leads to his final death and provokes in readers such a well of sympathy for the plight of the dispossessed and forgotten. Of course when you consider that many works in the modernist canon end up on the walls of multi-national galleries  like Gagosian, whose patrons march around in expensive furs, you can’t help think that Gogol’s "Overcoat" has come a long way baby.

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