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How does the work of a significant living artist enter the canon and the archive? And how must the field of art become more inclusive when it comes to representing artistic legacies?

Join us for an evening with acclaimed contemporary painter and collagist, William Villalongo, pioneering contemporary artist and founder of Franklin Furnace, Martha Wilson, and poet/ art critic/ curator John Yau as they engage in a lively discussion about these questions through their own work and the work of American artist Jasper Johns.

Known chiefly for his flag paintings, which reworked American iconography into a new modernist attitude, Johns’ singular oeuvre continues to be in active dialogue with contemporary culture. With the publication of a definitive five-volume catalogue raisonné of his work, the astonishing sweep of his art is revealed and we are asked to wrestle with its complexity.

In this two-part talk, we first delve into Jasper Johns’ work through this recently published catalogue raisonné with contributor Caitlin Sweeney, Director of Digital Publications at the Wildenstein Plattner Institute. Afterwards, our invited panelists discuss and raise challenging questions on living legacy, the archive and preservation.

A copy of the catalogue, on view for this event, will be acquired by the Brooklyn Public Library, giving continued access to this published survey of Johns’ work.

About the speakers:

Caitlin Sweeney is the Director of Digital Publications at the Wildenstein Plattner Institute. She previously served as a Senior Researcher for the Jasper Johns Catalogue Raisonné of Painting and Sculpture.


William Villalongo lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. His paintings and works on paper navigate the politics of historical erasure towards a reassessment of Western, American and African Art histories. Working out of the notion of Blackness as a verb, he reframes familiar images, events, and themes in our cultural landscape. Villalongo is the recipient of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award and the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptor's Grant. His work is included in the collections of the Studio Museum in Harlem, The Whitney Museum of American Art, the Princeton University Art Museum, El Museo del Barrio and the Denver Art Museum and has been reviewed in Art In America, The New Yorker and the New York Times. He is represented by Susan Inglett Gallery, New York.


Martha Wilson is a pioneering feminist artist and art space director, who over the past four decades created innovative photographic and video works that explore her female subjectivity. She has been described by New York Times critic Holland Cotter as one of “the half-dozen most important people for art in downtown Manhattan in the 1970s.” In 1976 she founded Franklin Furnace, an artist-run space that champions the exploration, promotion and preservation of artist books, temporary installation, performance art, as well as online works. She is represented by P.P.O.W Gallery in New York.


John Yau has published books of poetry, fiction, and criticism. His recent books include a selection of essays, The Wild Children of William Blake (2017) and a book of poetry, Bijoux in the Dark (2018). He is the author of monographs on Philip Taaffe (2018), Thomas Nozkowski (2017) and Catherine Murphy (2016). He has written two books on Jasper Johns, The United States of Jasper Johns (1997) and A Thing Among Things: The Art of Jasper Johns (2008), as well as contributed to various museum publications about this artist. He writes regularly for the online magazine Hyperallergic Weekend, teaches at Mason Gross School of the Arts (Rutgers University), runs a small press, Black Square Editions, and lives in New York.


 A Life’s Work BPL Presents is proud to name Hyperallergic our Media Sponsor for Jasper Johns: A Life’s Work

The evening is held in partnership with the Wildenstein Plattner Institute.


Ventriloquist, 1983
Encaustic on canvas
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Jamie Stukenberg, Professional Graphics, Rockford, Ill.
© The Wildenstein Plattner Institute, New York, 2018
Art © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

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