From the explosive colour of his 1950s and 60s paintings to the more pared-down works of today, this wide-ranging exhibition tracks Johns’ progress through a 60-year pursuit of ‘something resembling truth, some sense of life, even of grace’, as he described it in 2008.
More than 150 paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints – many of them rarely seen and drawn from international private and public collections – offer a timeline of the artist’s development, and showcase his unfaltering interest in experimentation. A number of new works are also on show, providing rare insight for UK audiences into Johns’ current practice.
From his first solo show in New York in 1958, Johns has proven influential on American art and beyond. His early works’ use of signs and symbols found an admirer in Andy Warhol, who would later employ more explicit references to pop culture in his work, while Johns has referenced his own touchpoints in more recent pieces that incorporate tracings and details of works by artists including Matthias Grünewald, Pablo Picasso and Edvard Munch.
Also spanning his ‘crosshatching’ works of the 70s, his contemplative works of the 80s and 90s and his early 2000s Catenary series, this exhibition offers a true overview of one of the 20th century’s greatest living artists. Something Resembling Truth has been curated in close collaboration with Johns himself, and follows in the Royal Academy’s tradition of celebrating its Royal Academicians.