Daniel Birnbaum

1 JASPER JOHNS (ROYAL ACADEMY OF ARTS, LONDON; CURATED BY ROBERTA BERNSTEIN AND EDITH DEVANEY) Before I knew anything about Jasper Johns, I encountered his work in a class taught by the late, great Nelson Goodman, who seemed to appreciate the painter’s work mainly as a demonstration of the riddles at the center of his own philosophical investigations. The most dramatic of these concerned the legendary “grue paradox”: Professor Goodman would point at a projected slide of a green target painting and say something puzzling like, “All these paintings by Jasper could be grue,” explaining that grue was a new predicate, defined as the property of being green before the year 2100 and blue afterward. We were all very confused by this notion of color-shifting paintings, but we learned the fundamental lesson: Art could be about problems of truth and language and about how signs refer to things in

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