Published in conjunction with a traveling exhibition organized by SFMOMA, this volume introduced new work by Jasper Johns, one of the most important artists of the contemporary period. Called the Bridge series by catalogue author Richard S. Field, the new pieces comprised the first substantial body of work that Johns created following his major retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1996. At once expansive and intimate, these paintings and works on paper investigate layers of memory and perception, themes that have preoccupied the artist throughout his career.
The larger paintings in the series are notable for spare, open fields of gray that evoke impressions of landscape, sea, and sky. Allusions to a Harlequin and to a Chinese costume worn by Johns as a child appear for the first time, while inset images of a galaxy and the Big Dipper pose questions of orientation and location. The lush gray surfaces provide a space in which the two- and three-dimensional interplay of biographical references with the artist’s complex iconography creates a richly evocative link — or “bridge” — with the past.
The first in-depth examination of this work, this publication features thirteen color plates (including two gatefolds) and fifteen black-and-white illustrations. Two interpretive essays offer an in-depth exploration of the diverse influences that inform these works and the rich associations that may be drawn from them.