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Harvard Art Museums Present Exhibition of Jasper Johns’s “Crosshatch” Works of the 1970s

Cambridge, MA ,

Student/museum collaboration examines Johns’s experiments in printmaking and innovative use of newsprint collage

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Updated April 20, 2012

The Harvard Art Museums present Jasper Johns / In Press: The Crosshatch Works and the Logic of Print, an exhibition that centers on the artist’s signature “crosshatch” works in the Harvard Art Museums collections and explores the impact of print on his oeuvre. The exhibition is the first that examines “print” and “the press” with reference not only to Johns’s experiments in printmaking, but also to print as a medium of information transfer, tracing his frequent use of newsprint and its temporal, political, and formal implications. Over twenty works are on display, including prints, drawings, and one painting by Johns. Also featured is comparative material exploring Johns’s relationship to the history of printing. Jasper Johns / In Press is on display May 22–August 18, 2012 at the Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, 485 Broadway, Cambridge, MA.

This exhibition, which began as a spring 2011 undergraduate course in Harvard’s History of Art and Architecture Department, was curated by Jennifer L. Roberts, Professor of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University; with assistance from Jennifer Quick, PhD candidate, Department of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University, and Agnes Mongan Curatorial Intern, Harvard Art Museums; Susan Dackerman, Director of Academic Programs and Carl A. Weyerhaeuser Curator of Prints, Harvard Art Museums; and four Harvard College undergraduates: Jacob Cedarbaum, C. Andrew Krantz, Mary Potter, and Phillip Y. Zhang. The goal of the course was to create an exhibition that examined Jasper Johns’s encaustic-and-collage painting The Dutch Wives (1975) and its relationship to other works in the Art Museums collections. The students developed the theme for the exhibition, chose the artworks to be included, and wrote essays for a complementary digital publication. Working with Roberts, Jennifer Quick produced the texts that serve as entries in the printed exhibition catalogue. The result of this curricular and collaborative venture is a groundbreaking exhibition that examines Johns’s overall artistic practice and reads it through his interest in and exploitation of different printmaking techniques and their metaphorical and material implications.

The exhibition includes key loans from Jasper Johns (The Dutch Wives, 1975), Jean Christophe Castelli (Cicada, 1979; Gray Alphabets, 1960, Painting with Two Balls I, 1962; and Usuyuki, 1981), and Harvard’s Houghton Library (Hatching [front endpaper], from Foirades/Fizzles by Johns and Samuel Beckett, 1976), along with prints by Johns from the Harvard Art Museums collections. The lithograph Corpse and Mirror (1976) was acquired by the Art Museums especially for the exhibition. Works on paper by Albrecht Dürer, Sol LeWitt, Pablo Picasso, and Frank Stella, as well as examples of ancient cylinder seals, complement the display and show other aspects of printmaking.

Two films by American artist Katrina Martin will also be shown in the gallery. Hanafuda/Jasper Johns (1978–81), 16 mm, color, 35 minutes, documents Johns at work on the screenprints Cicada and Usuyuki, both of which are on display in the exhibition. Silkscreens (1978), 16 mm, color, 20 minutes, shows printmakers working on The Dutch Wives (1977), a twenty-nine-screen print executed two years after the painting of the same name. An example of this print also hangs in the exhibition.

“Ultimately, we aim to provide the first sustained investigation of the centrality of print for Johns’s work in all media,” said Jennifer L. Roberts. “The logic of print informs Johns’s entire oeuvre—his paintings, sculpture, and drawings, in other words, are just as “printerly” as his prints. The broader impact of Johns’s work—its radical divergence from its mid-century antecedents and the new model of making and meaning that it installed for modern and contemporary art—derives largely from its engagement with print processes.”

This exhibition lays the groundwork for future curricular and collaborative efforts that will make use of the renovated and expanded Harvard Art Museums building, which will be a state-of-the-art facility for innovative teaching and learning. Key goals are to train students and emerging scholars in art history, visual thinking, curatorial practice, and conservation science. The Art Museums’ unique resources make such objectives possible: not only are their collections exceptional in quality and size, but the new facility also will have substantial gallery space dedicated to use by students and faculty. These galleries will present a forum in which to teach curatorial practice and exhibition-making, providing the chance for both undergraduates and graduate students to learn how to “spatialize” arguments using artworks and other objects.

“Our goal has been to integrate students and faculty into every possible aspect of exhibition planning and production, including choosing objects, conducting research, writing interpretive materials, and participating in the installation,” commented Susan Dackerman. “Such a class and project provides students with a hands-on curatorial experience that enables better understanding of museum practices that will benefit them well beyond their undergraduate years.”

A print catalogue comprising an essay by Jennifer L. Roberts and entries by Jennifer Quick will be published in May 2012 by the Harvard Art Museums and Hatje Cantz Verlag. The catalogue will be available in the Harvard Art Museums shop; call 617-495-1440 or email for ordering information. Beginning in June 2012, print publications will also be available for purchase through the Harvard Art Museums website. A companion digital publication with four essays by Harvard University undergraduates Jacob Cedarbaum, C. Andrew Krantz, Mary Potter, and Phillip Y. Zhang will be available on the Harvard Art Museums website when the exhibition opens:

The exhibition and two publications are made possible by generous funding from the Melvin R. Seiden and Janine Luke Fund for Publications and Exhibitions, Harvard Art Museums; the Provostial Fund in the Arts and Humanities, Harvard University; the Emily Rauh Pulitzer and Joseph Pulitzer Jr. Fund for Modern and Contemporary Art, Harvard Art Museums; and the Gurel Student Exhibition Fund, Harvard Art Museums.

Press Preview
A preview of the exhibition will be held for members of the press on Monday, May 21, 2012, at 9:30am. Kindly RSVP by Wednesday, May 16 to Parking is available, by permit, at the nearby Broadway Garage, 7 Felton Street. To reserve a permit, please indicate the need for parking in your email.

Exhibition Programming
Below is a list of the public events connected to the exhibition Jasper Johns / In Press: The Crosshatch Works and the Logic of Print. The events in May take place during Commencement week at Harvard University. The four Harvard College undergraduates who worked on the exhibition will graduate on Thursday, May 24, 2012. All events are held at the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, 485 Broadway, Cambridge, MA. Detailed information is available on the Harvard Art Museums’ website at

— Tuesday, May 22, 2012, 11am
Gallery Talk: Jasper Johns / In Press: Student Voices, with Jacob Cedarbaum and C. Andrew Krantz, Harvard College ʼ12. Free with the price of admission.

— Tuesday, May 22, 2012, 1pm
Gallery Talk: Jasper Johns / In Press: Student Voices, with Mary Potter and Phillip Y. Zhang, Harvard College ʼ12. Free with the price of admission.

— Wednesday, May 23, 2012, 5–8pm
Opening Lecture and Reception: Jasper Johns / In Press: The Crosshatch Works and the Logic of Print
Jennifer L. Roberts, Professor of History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University, will present the lecture The Printerly Art of Jasper Johns at 6pm. From 5–8pm there will be a reception in the Sackler Museum lobby and open galleries. Free admission.

— Saturday, August 11, 11am
Gallery Talk: Jasper Johns and Conceptual Art, with Jennifer Quick, PhD candidate, Department of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University, and Agnes Mongan Curatorial Intern, Harvard Art Museums. Free with the price of admission.

About the Harvard Art Museums
The Harvard Art Museums, among the world’s leading art institutions, comprise three museums (Fogg, Busch-Reisinger, and Arthur M. Sackler) and four research centers (Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, the Center for the Technical Study of Modern Art, the Harvard Art Museums Archives, and the Archaeological Exploration of Sardis). The Harvard Art Museums are distinguished by the range and depth of their collections, their groundbreaking exhibitions, and the original research of their staff. The collections include approximately 250,000 objects in all media, ranging in date from antiquity to the present and originating in Europe, North America, North Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, East Asia, and Southeast Asia. Integral to Harvard University and the wider community, the art museums and research centers serve as resources for students, scholars, and other visitors. For more than a century they have been the nation’s premier training ground for museum professionals and are renowned for their seminal role in developing the discipline of art history in this country.

In June 2008 the building at 32 Quincy Street, formerly the home of the Fogg and Busch-Reisinger museums, closed for a major renovation. During this renovation, the Sackler Museum at 485 Broadway remains open and has been reinstalled with some of the finest works representing the collections of all three museums. When complete, the renovated historic building on Quincy Street will unite the three museums in a single state-of-the-art facility designed by architect Renzo Piano.