Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror

Sept 29, 2021–Feb 13, 2022

Jasper Johns’s groundbreaking work sent shock waves through the art world when it was first shown in the late 1950s, and he has continued to challenge new audiences—and himself—over a career spanning more than sixty-five years. He was born in 1930 in Augusta, Georgia; spent the majority of his adult life in New York; and today lives in Sharon, Connecticut, where, at the age of ninety-one, he remains active in his studio. Johns’s early use of common objects and motifs, language, and inventive materials and formats upended conventional notions of what an artwork is and can be. His profoundly generative practice helped spark movements including Pop art, Minimalism, and Conceptualism, among others, and has inspired successive generations of artists to this day.

Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror is the most comprehensive retrospective ever devoted to Johns’s art. Featuring his most iconic works along with many others shown for the first time, it comprises a broad range of paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures from 1954 to today across two sites. Conceived as a whole but displayed in two distinct parts, the exhibition appears simultaneously here at the Whitney and at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, two institutions with which Johns has had long-standing relationships. This unique dual structure draws on the artist’s lifelong fascination with mirroring and doubles, so that each half of the exhibition echoes and reflects the other. Organized in largely chronological order, the retrospective presents pairs of related galleries—one in each city—that offer varied perspectives on the artist’s turns of mind. Individually, each gallery focuses on a particular aspect of Johns’s thought and work through the lens of different themes, processes, images, mediums, and even emotional states. Taken together, they provide an immersive exploration of the many phases, treasures, and mysteries of a radical, enduring, and still-evolving career.

This exhibition is organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The organizing curators are Carlos Basualdo, Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Senior Curator of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Scott Rothkopf, Senior Deputy Director and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, with Sarah B. Vogelman, Exhibition Assistant, in Philadelphia, and Lauren Young, Curatorial Assistant, in New York.

Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror is organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 

Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror is presented by

Leonard and Judy Lauder

Leadership support is provided by 

Kenneth C. Griffin 
Susan and John Hess 

Bank of America is the National Sponsor


In New York, this exhibition is sponsored by

Generous support is provided by Judy Hart Angelo; Neil G. Bluhm; Matthew Marks; and Kevin and Rosemary McNeely, Manitou Fund. 

Major support is provided by the Barbara Haskell American Fellows Legacy Fund; The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston; Nancy and Steve Crown; Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz; Ellsworth Kelly Foundation and Jack Shear; Agnes Gund; Kristen and Alexander Klabin; Helen and Charles Schwab; the Whitney’s National Committee; and an anonymous donor.  

Significant support is provided by Constance R. Caplan, Marguerite Steed Hoffman and Tom Lentz, the Jon and Mary Shirley Foundation, Sueyun and Gene Locks, Susan and Larry Marx, Marsha and Jeffrey Perelman, Donna Perret Rosen and Benjamin M. Rosen, The Robert Lehman Foundation, and Stefan T. Edlis and H. Gael Neeson Foundation. 

Additional support is provided by Aaron and Leslee Cowen, Kathy and Richard Fuld, Johanna and Leslie Garfield, Ashley Leeds and Christopher Harland, Mrs. Ronnie F. Heyman, Sheila and Bill Lambert, Barbara and Richard Lane, Margo Leavin, Janie C. Lee, Richard and Nancy Lubin, Martin Z. Margulies, the National Endowment for the Arts, Monique and Gregg Seibert, Norman Selby and Melissa Vail Selby, and Gloria H. Spivak.

This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

The opening dinner is sponsored by Christie’s 

New York magazine is the exclusive media sponsor.


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Flags and Maps


In 1954, Jasper Johns dreamed he painted an American flag, and the next day he set out to do so. This radical intuitive act inaugurated a way of working that has continued throughout his career: the direct transposition of common images and signs onto the surface of his art. His early motifs included not only flags but also maps, targets, alphabets, and numbers, what he described as “things the mind already knows.” Johns’s subjects shocked viewers, who found them more like everyday things than works of art at a time when abstraction predominated in New York galleries. Yet Johns’s deadpan approach opened onto a deep exploration of the philosophical boundaries between art and object, as well as representation and reality, since a painting of a flag or target could be seen both as the depiction of something and as the thing itself.

This gallery stages a face-off between Johns’s early flags and maps in black-and-white and those in color. From 1955 to 1970, he treated both these motifs across a range of mediums, palettes, and sizes, with a touch that varies from sensual to aggressive. Although Johns has repeatedly professed no particular interest in the nationalistic association of these subjects, they inevitably inspire meditations on the country and its history, present, and even future. Created when the United States was in the throes of the Cold War, the civil rights movement, and the Vietnam War, they conjure contradictory attitudes toward a divided nation, ranging from hope and jubilance to pessimism and despair.

The corresponding gallery at the Philadelphia Museum of Art focuses on numbers.


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A young man sitting on the edge of a desk, looking at the viewer with a neutral expression, and holding a glass, against a backdrop of a painting on the wall and a collection of liquor bottles.

Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror

By Scott Rothkopf, Senior Deputy Director and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator

Read essay

Audio guides

Hear from artists, curators, and scholars on selected works from the exhibition.

View guide

Exhibition Catalogue

Jasper Johns (b. 1930) is arguably the most influential artist living today. Over the past sixty-five years, he has produced a radical and varied body of work marked by constant reinvention. Inspired by the artist’s long-standing fascination with mirroring and doubles, this book provides an original and exciting perspective on Johns’s work and its continued relevance.

A diverse group of curators, academics, artists, and writers offer a series of essays—including many paired texts—that consider aspects of the artist’s work, such as recurring motifs, explorations of place, and use of a wide array of media. These include Carroll Dunham on dreams, Ruth Fine on monotypes and working proofs, Michio Hayashi on Japan, Terrance Hayes on flags, and Colm Toíbín on nightmares, among many others. The various themes are further explored in a series of in-depth plate sections that combine prints, drawings, paintings, and sculptures to draw new connections in Johns’s vast output.

Accompanying “mirroring” exhibitions held simultaneously at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, this lavishly illustrated volume features a selection of rarely published works along with never-before-published archival content and is full of revelations that allow us to engage with and understand the artist’s rich and varied body of work in new and meaningful ways.

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Explore works from this exhibition
in the Whitney's collection

View 97 works

In the News

“The structure of the exhibition will open a window onto the beauty, meaning, and remarkable artistic order that organizes Johns’s work.” —ArtfixDaily

“The artist’s work has managed to speak both to and for the country’s consciousness for the last 60 years—and he’s not done yet.” —T Magazine

"[A]n absolute must-see"Vogue

"It’s a broad and restless confrontation of the work of one of the country’s best-known artists . . . ."  —Boston Globe

"This is the first genuine, must-see blockbuster exhibition to open since the pandemic began in 2019, and it might be an occasion for euphoria.” Washington Post

"It’s a testimony to [Johns's] long, productive career that Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror needs two museums . . . ." —Wall Street Journal

". . . a spectacular exhibition, spanning the artist's 65-year career and featuring many of his most iconic works as well as rare pieces on public view here for the first time."—Gothamist

"Mind/Mirror is a much-needed close-read, experimental new geography of this artist . . ."New York Magazine

". . . a monumental retrospective [. . .] reveals an artist’s protean talent, changing perspectives and resiliency over six decades."—New York Times