Jasper Johns has often been called an “artist’s artist.” In his use of found objects and commonplace imagery, he creates tantalizing, intellectually demanding works of unparalleled orginality and uncommon beauty. His new work, with it pun, optical illusions, and embedded images ranging from George Ohr pots to the “Isenheim Altarpiece” to Picasso etchings, has attracted an unprecedented level of intense critical attention.
Crichton, who has known Johns and collected his work for more than twenty years, offers a dazzling succession of intimate glimpses of John’s potent and seemingly contradictory aspects, many of them highlighted by interviews with the artist, his dealers, and distinguished contemporary critics. He also conducts a powerful, sensitive, and wide-reaching cirtique of John’s work – and in so doing offers an intriguing investigation into the very nature of the artistic response.
Accompanying Crichton’s text are 186 black-and-white illustrations, including works by Johns, photographs of him and comparative examples. Then comes a spectacular display of 231 paintings, prints, sculptures, and drawings by Jasper Johns, ranging from his earliest pieces to his most recent works, some forty years later. Of these, 128 are reproduced in duotone and 103 in full color, including six magnificent foldout pages – the most lavish view of the artist’s work ever assembled between book covers.
Meticulous scholarship supports this presentation of Jasper Johns by Michael Crichton in every respect. Notes, a selected bibliography, and in index of illustrated works complete this extraordinary volume – a book for the layman, for the art specialist, and for all who love contemporary art.