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View of “Jasper Johns: Something Resembling Truth,” 2018. From left: Flag on Orange, 1958; Flag, 1958; Three Flags, 1958 Photo: Pablo Enriquez. © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

Jasper Johns

The Broad

View of “Jasper Johns: Something Resembling Truth,” 2018. From left: Flag on Orange, 1958; Flag, 1958; Three Flags, 1958 Photo: Pablo Enriquez. © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

AT AGE EIGHTY-EIGHT, Jasper Johns has come to occupy a unique position in American culture. Rivaling Bob Dylan for sheer unrelenting inventiveness, he persists in the form of an enigma, continuing to mine a vein by turns ultra superficial and maddeningly hermetic. Any attempt to summarize Johns’s significance runs immediately into contradiction: Indifferent to public attention yet virtuosic in his performance of artistic savoir faire, Johns is at once the iconic face of postwar American art and its most obscure, inward-focused contributor. A touchstone of queer art history—together with Robert Rauschenberg (his partner between 1954 and 1961), Merce Cunningham, and John Cage, Johns pierced the bubble of modernist hetero—sexism during the McCarthyite 1950s—he has nevertheless maintained a strict (some would say a closeted) code of silence about his personal life,

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