Isabelle Loring Wallace

Flag. 1954-55 (dated on reverse 1954). Encaustic, oil, and collage on fabric mounted on plywood, three panels, 42 1/4 x 60 5/8" (107.3 x 153.8 cm). Gift of Philip Johnson in honor of Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Image licenced to Isabelle Wallace WALLACE, ISABELLE by Isabelle Wallace Usage : - 2000 X 2000 pixels © Digital Image (c) The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource
“False Start: Jasper Johns and the Problem of Origins”
Thursday, April 4, 2019 @ 5:00 PM
“Art, Eschatology, and the Idea of the End”
Thursday, April 4, 2019 @ 12:00 PM


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Events made possible thanks to the Anonymous Fund and the Departments of Art, Art History and English.

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“False Start: Jasper Johns and the Problem of Origins”

Neither Johns’ first nor oldest extant work, Flag (1954-55) is often described as a personal emblem and point of origin, both for Johns’ oeuvre and postmodern culture more generally. But what kind of emblem is Flag? And, indeed, what kind of origin? With these two questions in mind, this lecture revisits Johns’ much-discussed painting and places it in dialogue with two contemporaneous, but seemingly unrelated developments outside the field of art history: 1) Jacques Lacan’s return to Freud as developed in his Parisian seminars of the mid to late fifties, and 2) the discovery of DNA’s double helix structure by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953. As I will argue, these never-compared phenomena reflect a profound shift in our perception of the human subject, which is in turn aligned with a profound shift in the conception of art, evident, I claim, in the self-reflexive, mid-century paintings of Jasper Johns.

“Art, Eschatology, and the Idea of the End”

What do Olafur Eliasson, Paul Pfeiffer, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, and Christian Jankowski all have in common? All are new media artists whose work is engaged with apocalyptic structures, themes, or imagery. In this wide-ranging discussion of art since the year 2000, we will consider several projects that sound a sober note of alarm, or, are notably light-hearted and/or pop-cultural, despite cataclysmic and/or religious subject matter. Our primary questions will be two: how does apocalyptic rhetoric function at the turn of the second millennium? And, what connections might we make between it, technology, and the Judeo-Christian tradition?


Isabelle Loring Wallace is Associate Professor of Contemporary Art at the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Virginia. Her research focuses on a wide range of objects and images, ranging from mid-twentieth-century American painting to early twenty-first-century photography, video, and installation. She has written essays on Manet, Duchamp, Jenny Saville, Wim Delvoye, Steven Meisel and Paul Pfeiffer, and co-edited of two anthologies that reflect her commitment to thinking about contemporary art within broad cultural and historical contexts: Contemporary Art and Classical Myth, co-edited with Jennifer Hirsh (Ashgate 2011) and Contemporary Art About Architecture: A Strange Utility co-edited with Nora Wendl (Ashgate
2013). Professor Wallace is also author of Jasper Johns (Phaidon, 2014) and is currently completing a second book on Johns that considers his work in conjunction with contemporaneous developments in the fields of genetics and psychoanalysis. Simultaneously, she is working on a new project that considers recurring intersections between new media art and assorted Judeo-Christian themes.