Jasper Johns: An Allegory of Painting, 1955–1965
Jasper Johns (born 1930) Ale Cans, 1964 lithograph, trial proof on Rives paper National Gallery of Art, Washington, Patrons' Permanent Fund, 2004.28.14 Art © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY  Jasper Johns (born 1930) Ale Cans, 1964 lithograph, trial proof on Japan paper National Gallery of Art, Washington, Patrons' Permanent Fund, 2004.28.17 Art © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY Jasper Johns (born 1930) Ale Cans, 1964 lithograph, trial proof on Japan paper National Gallery of Art, Gift of the Woodward Foundation, Washington, D.C. Art © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
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1st Etchings, 2nd State

The title 1st Etchings, 2nd State declares the technique Johns used to create the prints (etching); it also indicates that they are the first series he completed using this process and informs us that these are the second versions (states) of the images. Such specificity and precision are central to Johns’ approach to his work in all media. His clarity requires a viewer to make an equally careful reading of the art in order to grasp the distinctive nature of individual but related prints that initially may look identical.

In this section, each sheet from the 1st Etchings, 2nd State portfolio is accompanied by related proofs that document many of Johns’ decisions while developing the series. Also on view are trial proofs (1967–1968) for an earlier portfolio for which these plates were previously used, entitled 1st Etchings. The proofs are close to the edition impressions, but use different papers.

In addition to the title page

1st Etchings, 2nd State: Title Page, 1967-1969
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of the Woodward Foundation, Washington, DC. Art Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
images, 1st Etchings and 1st Etchings, 2nd State include both a hand-drawn, etched representation and a photoengraved an etching process in which a halftone image is photographically transferred to the metal plate and "bitten" before printing. image of Ale Cans, Flag, Flashlight, Light Bulb, Paint Brushes, and 0 through 9. In 1st Etchings, the drawn and photoengraved images of each object are printed together on a single sheet (fig. a), whereas in 1st Etchings, 2nd State, the plates are printed individually (figs. b and c), doubling the number of prints.

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