In 2012, Jasper Johns encountered an old photograph of the painter Lucian Freud in an auction catalogue. In the picture, Freud sits on a bed, holding his right hand to his forehead in a gesture of weariness or despair. Inspired not only by the image, but by the physical qualities of the photograph itself, Johns took this motif through a succession of permutations using a variety of mediums and techniques. The title and signature inscribed on most of the works—â€œRegrets / Jasper Johnsâ€—call to mind a feeling of sadness or disappointment. The words, however, are not without irony: Johns borrowed them from a rubber stamp he had made several years ago to decline the myriad requests and invitations that come his way.
Published in conjunction with an exhibition of this recent series of paintings, drawings, and prints, this publication presents each of the works in full color. An essay by Ann Temkin, Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture, and Christophe Cherix, Chief Curator of Drawings and Prints, The Museum of Modern Art, examines the importance of process and experimentation, the cycle of dead ends and fresh starts, and the incessant interplay of materials, meaning, and representation so characteristic of Johns's career over the last sixty years.