For Jasper Johns, Gray Matters

Monochromatic Met show opens to raves
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 8, 2008 1:56 PM CST
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where the "Jasper Johns: Gray" exhibit is up.   ((c) Go Card USA)
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(Newser) – Visitors to the major Jasper Johns exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum in New York might find the art a bit colorless. But that's precisely the point: The renowned American artist has filled the galleries with 119 paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures executed in shades of gray. The nearly monochromatic show is "unexpectedly rich" but also "weirdly obsessive," writes Bloomberg critic Linda Yablonsky.

Jasper Johns: Gray, organized by the Art Institute of Chicago, investigates the artist's  fascination with the non-color, which for him is more than a midpoint between white and black. While "unavoidably somber," gray becomes a tool "to neutralize subjective associations" and render the familiar abstract. A few shots of color punctuate the show: It includes False Start, the riotous 1959 painting David Geffen sold to a Chicago financier for $80 million.