“Painting relates to both art and life. Neither can be made (I try to act in the gap between the two)”.” [Robert Rauschenberg 1959]
“The way in which Rauschenberg is most known for combining art and life is through his incorporation of everyday objects into his works. Collection, his first Combine painting, is made of oil, paper, fabric, wood, and metal on canvas. Similar examples include Trophy I (for Merce Cunningham), Trophy V (for Jasper Johns), Fish Park / ROCI JAPAN and Orrey (Borealis). All these works include objects which connect the painting more closely to life, whether it be a sign-post, a window frame, a piece of cloth or a musical instrument. These works also show that just as Rauschenberg tried to blur the boundaries between life and art, he also eliminated the distinctions between different mediums such as photography, painting, printing and sculpture by combining them all in one work.” [Vinciane Jones Robert Rauschenberg: Art and Life]
Generally speaking, metamodernism reconstructs things by joining their opposing elements in an entirely new configuration rather than seeing those elements as being in competition with one another. If postmodernism favored deconstructing wholes and then putting the resulting parts in zero-sum conflict with one another — a process generally referred to as “dialectics” — metamodernism focuses instead on dialogue, collaboration, simultaneity, and “generative paradox” (this last being the idea that combining things which seem impossible to combine is an act of meaningful creation, not anarchic destruction). Metamodernists will often say that they “oscillate” between extremes, which really just means that they move so quickly between two extremes that the way they act incorporates both these two extremes and everything between them. The result is something totally new.[?] [G. Gordon Worley III Embracing Metamodernism]
“… the urinal was now part of what Danto called ‘the artworld’, in a 1964 article of the same name. The artworld is, simply put, a milieu in which objects can gain a new power: to express something beyond their ordinary utility. They are part of a new category, ‘art’, and gain a message that can be distinguished from their use or exchange value, and from the new category itself (a distinction we will come back to later). This is the famous aspect of art that the eye cannot, in Danto’s word, ‘descry’, the non-visual aspect of some visual art.
Warhol made his Brillo boxes from plywood, rather than taking boxes from a dry goods store; Duchamp didn’t make a urinal, he displayed it in a new context. This expression is not representation, as often understood: mimesis, or copying the likeness of some object. Mark Rothko’s most popular paintings, for example, do not represent any particular objects, but they certainly have a message: of awe, or the sublime. So, within the artworld, objects express ideas and feelings – sometimes by resemblance, sometimes not. [Damen Young and Nigel Priest – It is and it isn’t]
“Metamodernism embraces the paradoxical. For instance, in negotiating between modernism’s belief in universality and postmodernism’s belief in contingency, metamodernism posits that certain ideas can be “objectively” true for an individual even though the individual also understands that they are not universally true. The paradox of something being “objectively true for me” simply means that each of us does, in fact, respond to guiding “metanarratives” (the stories we tell ourselves about our lives and what they mean) which operate as absolutely true to us even as we recognize they are not shared — or even necessarily understood — by others. This paradoxical relationship between how we conceive of truth “locally” and how we conceive of it at the level of society allows us to constantly exhibit and participate in paradoxes, as we are simultaneously aware and accepting of how we individually operate and how that differs dramatically from how others do.” [Seth Abrahamson Ten Basic Principles of Metamodernism]
Undoubtedly a master of paradox, Jasper Johns seems to exist in a world of betweens, between Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art, between painting and sculpture, between chaos and structure, between public and private, between emotion and fact, and also between the familiar and the unexpected. Like a Zen koan, this paradoxical stance running throughout Something Resembling Truth allows Johns to break down preconceptions to get to the very heart of language, image, and communication. In a Descartian manner, he strips his knowledge back to the elementary school basics of letters, numbers, maps, and flags in order to question what he knows and gain a fresh, truthful perspective on the world.
Aptly titled Things the Mind Already Knows, the first room in this show is dedicated to Johns’s celebrated flag paintings. Here we see the artist breakdown assumptions and prejudgements about this ubiquitous and complex icon. The American flag is an object that most people have seen countless times in their daily lives. Nearly everyone has deep-seated opinions about this symbolic object. Much like art itself, everyone sees something different in the flag. [Emily Nimptsch on Jasper Johns]