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Art museum premieres Jasper Johns exhibition

Through Sunday, Jan. 4, 2009 Princeton University Art Museum

This fall the Princeton University Art Museum is the first venue for the traveling exhibition, "Jasper Johns: Light Bulb," organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

On view at the Princeton museum through Jan. 4, the exhibition examines the role that a simple object, the incandescent light bulb, has played in the work of American artist Jasper Johns.

The light bulb made its initial appearance early in Johns' career in a 1957 drawing of a bare bulb hanging from an electrical cord. It was also the subject of his first sculpture, "Light Bulb I" (1958), whose creation coincided with his first solo exhibition in New York at the fledgling Leo Castelli Gallery. This everyday object would eventually dominate Johns' limited sculptural output and become a recurring motif in his prints and drawings for the next 20 years.

"Jasper Johns: Light Bulb" brings together for the first time Johns' light bulb sculptures and the related works on paper, including several drawings from the artist's collection that have never before been exhibited. Johns, who often produced counterpart prints to his paintings and sculptures, viewed printmaking as a medium that encouraged experimentation. The exhibition, which includes seven sculptures and 18 prints and drawings, highlights the relationship between Johns' two-dimensional and three-dimensional works, the importance of artistic process, and the artist's underlying concern with the manner in which people perceive, label and categorize objects.

"This exhibition provides a wonderful opportunity for viewers to explore Johns' remarkable ability to extract from a single, seemingly simple and often-overlooked object from our daily lives a range of meaning and formal possibility,” said Kelly Baum, the Locks Curatorial Fellow for Contemporary Art at the museum.

Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

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