Deconstructing Marcus Jansen
Marcus Jansen (American, b. 1968) finds inspiration in the world around him. Regarded as a pioneer of “urban landscape painting,” Jansen uses his upbringing in both the United States and Germany, and places he was stationed during his time in the army, as influence for his paintings. Drawing inspiration from New York Abstract Expressionism as well as graffiti, Pop art, and Surrealism, Jansen employs practices from these art forms to create paintings that make social commentary. This exhibition places the techniques and themes in Jansen’s work in dialogue with other paintings, photographs, and prints from the Kemper Museum Permanent Collection.
Jansen’s mixed-media work such as Streets (2008) was inspired by Romare Bearden and Robert Rauschenberg’s use of collage and found objects. The nearly monochromatic scene in Empty Plates (2007) parallels photographs by Robert Farber with its use of gradient color, while details found in the corner of the painting pay homage to Abstract Expressionists like Willem de Kooning—another of Jansen’s inspirations. In both Streets and Empty Plates, Jansen employs a central line to divide the composition, a technique also seen in John Steuart Curry’s Fire Diver (1934) featured in this exhibition. By including Jansen’s artistic influences and contemporaries, this exhibition highlights the visual, technical, and thematic correlations among them.
Deconstructing Marcus Jansen is the fourth in a series of exhibitions—following Francis Bacon (2013), Robert Mangold (2016), and Louise Nevelson (2018)—that focus on the style, themes, and history of individual artists within the Kemper Museum Permanent Collection. The Deconstructing series provides opportunities for meditations on the interconnectedness of artists and works of art in the Permanent Collection. Deconstructing Marcus Jansen is curated by Jade Powers, assistant curator at Kemper Museum.