Johns at work on Regrets. Photographed 20 February 2013. Photo: © John Lund.

VIENNA.- With Jasper Johns: Regrets, the Upper Belvedere is presenting from 13 January to 26 April 2015 not only one of the most important and multifaceted American artists, but also recent body of work, developed over the last year and a half, and gives visitors the chance to see one of the most important series in Jasper Johns’ contemporary work. The exhibition features around 30 works, including two paintings, sketches and prints. Each of the two paintings is titled Regrets. This title is developed from a stamp that Johns had produced about five years ago, in order to swiftly decline the stream of requests and invitations that he frequently receives. Enlarged as a screen print, the words on the stamp appear in the top right corner of the two paintings, serving both as the artist’s signature and as the works’ titles. In June 2012, Johns discovers an old photograph of the young artist Lucian Freud in an auction catalogue. The photograph, part of a series taken around 1964 by the British photographer John Deakin, shows the young artist Lucian Freud perched on a bed, one arm raised to obscure his face in an introspective gesture. Jasper Johns was not only inspired by the scenery but also by the damages the image had suffered over the years. In the following months, the image became the starting point for his Regrets-series, where he takes the image through a succession of numerous permutations.


View of the exhibition « Jasper Johns: Regrets ». Photo: Eva Würdinger, © Belvedere, Vienna

« I am especially delighted that with the Regrets series by Jasper Johns the Belvedere is able to vividly show the artist’s pioneering artistic practice as one of the main representatives of American postwar-modernism« , Agnes Husslein-Arco, director of the Belvedere and 21er Haus, states. His most recent series, which is based on the painterly, graphic and print graphic processing of one single photograph, refers to the intertwinement between everyday life and classic artistic expression so characteristic for his work. This is also what created his canonical position in art history. The exhibition therefore links history with present, which is a central goal of our interventions series Agnes Husslein-Arco adds.


View of the exhibition « Jasper Johns: Regrets ». Photo: Eva Würdinger, © Belvedere, Vienna

The Regrets series takes the image of Freud through a succession of cross-medium permutations, including small pencil sketches, a set of four ink-on-plastic drawings, and two prints, each presented along with a variety of preliminary states. But Johns not only incorporated the photograph of Freud into his work (most often doubled by its mirrored image), but also the physical qualities of the original black-and-white print, which Freud had extensively torn and creased in the course of his studio practice. A loss on the original photograph, for example, plays a prominent role in the composition throughout the series, creating a dominant dark form in the center foreground.


View of the exhibition « Jasper Johns: Regrets ». Photo: Eva Würdinger, © Belvedere, Vienna

A large-scale watercolor, also titled Regrets, obscures the image nearly into abstraction, exploring the theme in yet another way. This series lays bare the importance of process and experimentation, the cycle of dead ends and fresh starts, and the incessant interplay of materials, meaning, and representation so characteristic of Johns’ career over the last 60 years. This is a significant opportunity to see one of his most important series of contemporary works. Having emerged as a leading voice in American art in the late 1950ies with paintings of iconic motifs such as flags, targets, and numbers, Johns has since developed a body of work of extraordinary narrative complexity and technical virtuosity. During his career, Johns has created some of the most important and compelling works of modern times.


Jasper Johns, Regrets, 2013. Courtesy of the artist © Jasper Johns / © Image Rights, Vienna, 2015. Photo: Jerry Thompson.

This exhibition Jasper Johns: Regrets is based upon one originally organized by The Museum of Modern Art, New York and organized by Christophe Cherix, Ann Temkin, and Ingrid Langston. The Belvedere is the third iteration of Jasper Johns: Regrets parts of it were presented at the Courtauld Gallery in London – and is the first major solo exhibition in Vienna since his retrospective of prints at the Vienna Secession in 1987.

Regrets runs through 26 April.


Johns at work at Regrets, recording from April 26, 2013. Photo: © John Lund


Jasper Johns, Untitled, 2013. Anne Dias Griffin, © Jasper Johns / © Image Rights, Vienna, 2015. Photo: Jerry Thompson

7.-moma-plate-8-jerry-l.-thompson- (1)

Jasper Johns, Untitled, 2013. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, pledged donation from a private collection, © Jasper Johns / © Image Rights, Vienna, 2015. Photo: Jerry Thompson