An enjoyable retrospective which made me appreciate Johns more than I did before. The exhibition shows just how versatile he is, though putting all the works together highlights both his strengths (conceptual flag/map art) and weaknesses (‘traditional’ painting).
The map/flag room is particularly good, both in terms of the works chosen and the way they’re displayed. It’s quite impressive to see just how different an effect his maps have, depending on the colours/styles chosen (see two examples below). I also enjoyed seeing his surrealist works, which were new to me and pretty good.
The only criticisms I have is that the exhibition is too long (go when you are neither hungry nor tired!), and in general The Whitney isn’t very good at creating defined pathways through exhibitions, which annoys completionists like me.
(Sidenote: I wonder how many visitors to the NYC exhibition will also go to the Philadelphia exhibition? I assume it’ll be significantly fewer than Philly-to-NYC visitors.)