Editions with Additions: Working Proofs by Jasper Johns

October 11, 2009 – April 4, 2010

East Building, Ground Floor, Northeast

  • Editions with Additions Working Proofs by Jasper Johns /content/dam/ngaweb/features/slideshows/editions-with-additions/editions_1.jpg

    Fragment—According to What: Hinged Canvas, 1971, lithograph, working proof with crayon, chalk, and graphite, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Patrons' Permanent Fund and Special Friends of the National Gallery of Art. Art © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. 2006.136.40

  • Editions with Additions Working Proofs by Jasper Johns /content/dam/ngaweb/features/slideshows/editions-with-additions/editions_2.jpg

    False Start I, 1962, lithograph, working proof with pastel, pencil, and ink, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Patrons' Permanent Fund and Special Friends of the National Gallery of Art. Art © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. 2004.28.4

  • Editions with Additions Working Proofs by Jasper Johns /content/dam/ngaweb/features/slideshows/editions-with-additions/editions_3.jpg

    Targets, 1967–1968, chalk, transparent and opaque watercolor, and graphite, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Patrons' Permanent Fund and Special Friends of the National Gallery of Art. Art © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. 2004.167.90

    While developing his 1968 lithograph Targets, Johns annotated this sheet as a working proof. When he later observed that it is directly drawn and painted in its entirety, he crossed out the "working proof" designation.

  • Editions with Additions Working Proofs by Jasper Johns /content/dam/ngaweb/features/slideshows/editions-with-additions/editions_4.jpg

    Target with Four Faces, 1968, screenprint, working proof with chalk, ink, and collage, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Patrons' Permanent Fund and Special Friends of the National Gallery of Art. Art © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. 2004.167.17

    Returning to imagery seen in his 1955 painting of this title, Johns combines the rhythmic geometry of the concentric target bands with four images of the human face, emphasizing variation in repetition—an essential element of Johns' art. The model is choreographer Merce Cunningham (1919–2009), whose dance company used an image of the related edition print for a poster.

  • Editions with Additions Working Proofs by Jasper Johns /content/dam/ngaweb/features/slideshows/editions-with-additions/editions_5.jpg

    Watchman, 1967, lithograph, working proof with crayon, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Patrons' Permanent Fund and Special Friends of the National Gallery of Art. Art © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. 2004.167.34

    Johns first explored the theme of the watchman in a 1964 canvas. One of his notebooks from that year offers the following enigmatic comment: "The watchman falls 'into' the 'trap' of looking.'...'Not spying, just looking'—Watchman."

     

    In this working proof, the leg and chair are strengthened with a crayon outline.

  • Editions with Additions Working Proofs by Jasper Johns /content/dam/ngaweb/features/slideshows/editions-with-additions/editions_6.jpg

    Fragment—According to What: Leg and Chair, 1971, lithograph, working proof with ink wash, charcoal, pastel, graphite, and collage, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Patrons' Permanent Fund and Special Friends of the National Gallery of Art. Art © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. 2006.136.44

    Johns added broad areas of color on top of a printed outline in this working proof.

  • Editions with Additions Working Proofs by Jasper Johns /content/dam/ngaweb/features/slideshows/editions-with-additions/editions_7.jpg

    Untitled, 1978, lithograph, working proof with chalk, crayon, and tusche, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Patrons' Permanent Fund and Special Friends of the National Gallery of Art. Art © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

  • Editions with Additions Working Proofs by Jasper Johns /content/dam/ngaweb/features/slideshows/editions-with-additions/editions_8.jpg

    Foirades/Fizzles (Rejected Plate: Hand), 1976, etching, working proof with tusche, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Patrons' Permanent Fund and Special Friends of the National Gallery of Art. Art © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

    Johns contributed 33 etchings and two lithographs to a bound volume that also includes five short texts by the Irish writer Samuel Beckett. (Beckett referred to his prose texts as "fizzles," or foirades in French.) The images do not serve as illustrations for the text. Rather, they reflect parallel artistic and philosophical concerns, including both artists’ preoccupation with fragmentation and loss, language and sign, memory and metaphor.

     

    In developing the book, Johns made more than 150 proof impressions, including 35 working proofs. He also designed the sequence in which text and images would be integrated.

  • Editions with Additions Working Proofs by Jasper Johns /content/dam/ngaweb/features/slideshows/editions-with-additions/editions_9.jpg

    After Holbein, 1993, lithograph, working proof with crayon, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Patrons' Permanent Fund and Special Friends of the National Gallery of Art. Art © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

  • Editions with Additions Working Proofs by Jasper Johns /content/dam/ngaweb/features/slideshows/editions-with-additions/editions_10.jpg

    Ocean, 1996, lithograph, working proof with ink, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Patrons' Permanent Fund and Special Friends of the National Gallery of Art. Art © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. 2010.116.21

    Ocean is the title of a 90-minute dance choreographed by Merce Cunningham and first performed by his dance company in 1994. This is one of three working proofs Johns made while developing a lithographic edition of Ocean to benefit the company founded by Cunningham, who is represented in the two portraits. The geometric structure recalls that of Johns' painting Map (Based on Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion Air Ocean World) of 1967–1971. The implied 19-triangle format echoes the 19-part structure of Cunningham's dance.

THIS EXHIBITION IS NO LONGER ON VIEW AT THE NATIONAL GALLERY.

Overview: 39 working proofs by American artist Jasper Johns from the 1960s through the 1990s were shown in this exhibition spanning 40 years of the artist's career. The works were selected from Johns' collection of 1,700 proofs for 300 lithographs, etchings, and screenprints, a recent and ongoing acquisition from the artist.

Curator Ruth Fine presented an opening-day lecture on October 11.

Organization: The exhibition was organized by the National Gallery of Art. Ruth Fine, curator of special projects in modern art, was curator.

Attendance: 87,410

Image: Jasper Johns, Target with Four Faces [working proof w/ additions in chalk, ink, collage], 1968, color photoscreenprint with added chalk, ink, and collage on wove paper, Patrons' Permanent Fund and Special Friends of the National Gallery of Art, Published by Jasper Johns © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY, 2004.167.17

Audio/Video

NGA Behind the Scenes: Editions with Additions: Working Proofs by Jasper Johns
Ruth Fine, curator of special projects in modern art, National Gallery of Art, Washington

Related Artists

Related Resources

Education Resource: Art since 1950