Blake Gopnik | 4Columns | 1st October 2021
In contrast to last week’s piece on Johns, this one focuses on the art. Starting out straight after abstract expressionism, Johns wanted to make art about real things. Are his celebrated flags ‘things’, or symbols of an idea? Do his ‘numbers’ pictures express a pure idea or are they objects borrowed from commercial art? This duality is the admirable aspect of Johns’ work. Less clear is whether, at some point, his art lost its cleverness and became a production of ‘things’.