Christensen Distinguished Lecture | John Yau

This is an Archive of a Past Event

Jasper Johns's Broken Representations of the Human Physique

In 1964, Jasper Johns wrote a note in his sketchbook: “Take an object / Do something to it / Do something else to it. [Repeat.]” In a conversation that he had with Roberta Bernstein, speaking about his use of plaster fragments in early works, such as “Target with Plaster Casts” and “Target with Four Faces” (both 1955)”, Johns stated:

"Any broken representation of the human physique is touching in someway; it’s upsetting or provokes reactions that one can’t quite account for. Maybe because one’s image of one’s own body is disturbed by it".

The lecture will take a closer look at what Johns did with representations of the damaged human body from the very beginning of his career until recent works, such as those based on a photograph by Larry Burrows of an American soldier overcome by grief in the Vietnam War. In returning to this subject for more than sixty years, how has Johns dug deeper into what he can’t quite account for? What has he found disturbing and how has he responded to it?  What might we learn from his responses?

John Yau has published books of poetry, fiction, and criticism. His latest poetry publications include Further Adventures in Monochrome and Egyptian Sonnets (both 2012). His next book of poetry, Bijoux in the Dark, will be published in the spring of 2018.

His most recent monographs are Catherine Murphy (2016) and Richard Artschwager: Into the Desert (2015). He has also written monographs on A. R. Penck, Jasper Johns, Pat Steir, and Andy Warhol. In the fall of 2017, Lund Humphries will publish the monograph Thomas Nozkowski in a new series Contemporary Painters. A book of essays, The Wild Children of William Blake, is forthcoming from Autonomedia.

In 2012, he helped start the online magazine Hyperallergic Weekend. He is a Professor of Critical Studies at Mason Gross School of the Arts (Rutgers University).

This lecture is made possible by a generous grant from Carmen M. Christensen

Image: Jasper Johns, Farley Breaks Down - after Larry Burrows, 2014. Ink and water-soluble encaustic on plastic. 31 7/8 x 24 inches. Credit: Private Collection, New York. Art: © Jasper Johns / Licensed by VAGA, NY. Photo: Jerry L. Thompson

VISITOR INFORMATION: Oshman Hall is located in the McMurtry Building, at 355 Roth Way on Stanford's campus. Parking is free after 4 PM weekdays. Entry is free of charge and open to the public - all are encouraged to attend!
Subscribe to announcements alike