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Jasper Johns: Fade to Grey

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Bradley Rubenstein reviews the exhibition Jasper Johns: Regrets at the Museum of Modern Art, MoMA, New York, on view through September 1, 2014.

Rubenstein writes: "In these current paintings he plays with mirror images of the photograph of Freud… Both the artist and the painting struggle against the urge to reveal themselves in their entirety; we see an artist struggling to communicate with sincerity, yet also with studied calculation… Johns has worked out his composition and imagery through studies [in which] mixed media function in relationship to paint the way an understudy does to an actor — allowing Johns to imagine the possibilities and incident of paint, a dress rehearsal for the ultimate pictures… In the end, through the distancing effects of Johns's process, he allows himself to be 'painted out of the picture' in the way that he did with his targets and flags. Johns allows the paintings to once again stand apart from their creator, with an eye to posterity, letting the viewer into his pictorial space, not his personal one."

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