Disappointing Expose On A 20th Century American Artist
allismile0 | Washington, DC | 04/21/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
""Jasper Johns, Ideas In Paint" is a poorly executed documentary. It's not entirely clear what the premise is about even though the title would lead you to believe it's about his art process and all that goes with that. Johns was one of the most influential artists of the second half of the 20th century; along with artist like Robert Rauschenberg, Johns made art that was irreverent to the abstract expressionist and iconoclastic to the two dimensional painting/three dimensional sculpture way of thinking.
What this documentary tends to focus on too much of is his relationships with other "famous artists" and contemplating the prices of his art (one piece sold for $17 million at auction). It seems like the makers of this documentary weren't too sure themselves if Johns is a great artist or if his art is simply a phenomena of commerce.
Throughout the interviews the debate on his skills and popularity always seems to come up; when those questions aren't coming up it becomes clear that the people that do admire his work in this video seem to be living in their own bubble of pretensions and are not really tapped into reality. Johns himself doesn't seem to be all that comfortable in front of the camera and the things he say are quite cold and uninspired. They do use footage from an excellent documentary called "Painter's Painting" (which I very highly recommend) where Johns is much more relaxed and seems to be more clear on what he has to say; but that doesn't save this video from being two steps away from completely dismissible.
This documentary does three things that I think are inexcusable; it does a poor job at focusing on his career and shifts he made as an artist; it focus's on the commerce of his art (which explains/justifies nothing about the artist); and it only taps the surface of what the documentary is supposedly about- Ideas in Paint!!
It's unfortunate that a better video could not have been made about this artist. He has made some very fascinating works that deserve consideration and not debate. There are moments of interesting insight but not worth paying $24.00, I recommend a pass on this one. This video could have been called "Jasper Johns: $17 Million Says A Lot!""