On view in the Project Space, we are very pleased to present the complete set of Jasper Johns’ Fragment—According to What, his seminal series from 1971. Consistently examining fragmentation and the relationship of the part to the whole, in this series Johns breaks apart one of his own paintings—According to What from 1964. Throughout his career, Johns uses his paintings as source materials for his visual language, self-referencing and repeating elements again and again. In fragmenting his painting, Johns is taking the three-dimensional elements such as the hinged canvas, bent stencils or a chair, and flattening them in the lithographs to signify the painted object instead of the actual object.
Johns’ use of gray tones is amongst his most highly regarded artistic accomplishments. In 2007, The Art Institute of Chicago organized an exhibition tracing Johns's application of gray over a period spanning more than five decades. Quoting from the press release, “every one of Johns' major iconic, serialized forms has been, at one stage or another, articulated in gray. The intellectual and emotional significance of this color in his work has changed remarkably since 1955, when he used it initially as a statement of skepticism, quietude, or anticipation. Gray has since evolved in Johns' work as an agent in a profound examination of the very meaning of color itself [and] is further considered as a material condition...gray has been, for the artist, a vehicle for thinking about color through its absence. Indeed, some of his most expressively rich statements are made in gray.”