the satc reboot is bad

2021-12-20  egg

First day of my week off. I spent the morning at the Whitney looking at the Jasper Johns exhibit I’d seen around the time it opened with Priya. I got so much more out of it this time, meaning I probably shouldn’t go to museums with people in general in the future if I’m trying to actually learn unless we’re both in the mood to get deeply into our separate journeys through the museum. I love winter, it was frosty and bright with the sun shining in my eyes on my walk home around noon and when I went to pick up takeout from Spicy Moon for lunch. There were a lot more people at the Whitney than I thought would be, and not even double-masked? When I was standing at the entry of the fifth floor where the Johns exhibit was I was hoping this old man who was matching my pace when we were (together, but separately) making our way from the left to right side of the large wall would strike up a conversation about the pieces we were both looking at. He got much more into the later works on that wall than I did though. But I feel that the wall actually served as a useful primer for the exhibition in that it presented, without so many words, the main visual motifs / formal elements you actually saw as you made your way through the galleries. Primary colors, repetition, those etching-like marks, the constellation-type stuff that emerged in the eighties. Notes I took: - Diver (1962): indexical / explicit representation of movement, indexing an object through discrete “representative” elements such as just handprints or footprints - Two Maps (1965): repetition, slight differences between each index. I feel like his map works are less successful than the flags because he doesn’t seem to play with that much during the maps. Some of the info placards said that the maps were useful to explore the overlapping representation/communication systems in the context of nationalism, Americana, etc. but I don’t think any of that latter stuff really came across. The flag is more potent of a symbol to play with and acts as a more useful framing device for all these ideas. - The South Carolina room seems more sentimental and concerned with domesticity, introspection. This could have been because of the blueprints in some of his paintings or the Frank O’Hara or the vaguely floral outlines that overlay some of the elements of his paintings, but even though this room was more emotional it was less coherent, more ponderous, in a way that was harder to engage with for me. That being said, I loved the Frank O’Hara stuff. “When I think of you in South Carolina / I think of my foot in the sand.” :( - According to What (1964): the presentation of this exhibit makes it seem like this is a return to the previous themes and motifs after his dalliance in South Carolina but actually this is before the maps even, so any thought that this might be a deconstruction of the things he was working on during flag and map period is a fallacy that maybe is encouraged by the exhibit’s organization? I feel like it’s an impressive work and should maybe have been presented before the flags and maps as a thesis statement since he’s literally representing the deconstruction of painting as a medium with the color palettes, primary colors, gradients, etc. - Racing Thoughts (1984): Somewhere between the previous room and this one it was cool to see how formal elements from previous eras of his work made organic reappearances, such as the use of bisecting and “self-sufficiency” via wraparound split words. It made the piece a little easier to parse even though you could kind of get the gist through the title that it was about his psychological state. I don’t know how we would have been able to know that the man hovering on the upper left side of the canvas was Leo Castelli, his gallerist, had it not been for the info placards, so I guess his gallerist was haunting him and not in a good way. I wonder how Castelli felt about being in this work. The comparison of the grayscale and colored versions actually felt illuminating, like the emotional vibrancy induced by the colors mapped itself onto the contrasting darkness of the black-and-white version to make the latter more depressing. - In the Studio (1982): love a good existential crisis. My coworker Joseph mentioned he liked the surrealist bent of the stuff in this room, and this one stood out to me the most. I love the throwback on the right side with the duplicate paintings on top of each other, the bottom one smudged. Also thought this was a more successful use of “assemblage” or whatever you want to call it—the mannequin-like disembodied arm next to the represented drawing of the arm and the wooden shaft that juts out. I lost steam around this part because I reached the far other end of the gallery floor and it was just people sunbathing on the leather couches and pretending to care about the cast-iron reproductions of some numbers works. I took a look at some of his post-2000 stuff, and the “Regrets, Jasper Johns” one was interesting but I was too tired to stick around and produce some intellectual/emotional connection with it. My general impression was that of a man confronting death, aging, etc. I think my favorites are the Frank O’Hara tribute and In the Studio. Although I didn’t record much or spend much time with his “constellating” works, I appreciated the slower, more cosmic, and …hippie dippie?.. vibe of those rooms. Not to brag but when Carrie searches for funeral homes MY FUNERAL HOME SHOWS UP in the search results. Too bad she didn't click on the link, she could have joined in a mid-sized lineage of films/TV shows that use Peter Deluca-affiliated funeral homes. Unhinged quote: “Rolling Stone India described Ashok as "New York’s stock Joe Gould-like character injected with the creative adrenaline of gonzo journalist Hunter S Thompson and the uncouth coarseness of writer Charles Bukowski.”"