Field Trip: Jasper Johns at the Whitney

If you haven’t made it up to the Whitney for the Jasper Johns show yet, do. It’s up till Feb. 13, but you know that time will fly by.

The show is huge, diverse, iconic and so well arranged — it’s chronological, but with a break here and there for some themes that cross decades — that it remains exciting right till the end. You walk through the galleries clockwise, and the final room that shows his current sculptures looks out onto Hudson River Park, the river and the New Jersey horizon. Leave yourself a few minutes to sit on the western-facing benches there and enjoy the whole set-up.

I’ve been three times (I’m a big fan: I took a JJ poster to college freshman year) but on the most recent visit, one of the guards mentioned that the curator — Scott Rothkopf — was touring the galleries and if I had any questions I should ask him. He wasn’t hard to spot — he was explaining the show to two men as they strolled through. I eavesdropped a little, asked a question and got a bit of insight into the art of curating. The show is called Mind/Mirror, and in one gallery, the museum constructed interior walls that add a few more right angles. That allowed them to display two pieces that reflected each other by hanging them perpendicularly, rather than side by side — it’s much easier to see the parallels that way. The other mirror is in Philly: The show was conceived as a whole but displayed in two parts simultaneously at the Whitney and at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Stay tuned for that field trip.

If you are making a day of it, the museum doesn’t have the same dining options as it did pre-covid — Danny Meyer closed the Untitled restaurant on the ground floor in March — but there is a grab-and-go caf√© in its place and another on the 8th floor. The good news is Barbuto reopened in October at 113 Horatio; the bad news is reservations are a month out. Someone try walking in and report back…

 

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