Jasper Johns: An Allegory of Painting, 1955–1965
Jasper Johns (born 1930) 1st Etchings: Flag, 1967 etching, trial proof on wove paper National Gallery of Art, Washington, Patrons' Permanent Fund Art © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY Jasper Johns (born 1930) 1st Etchings, 2nd State: Flag, 1967/1969 etching and open-bite on Auvergne paper National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of the Woodward Foundation, Washington, D.C. Art © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
a b
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1st Etchings, 2nd State

In addition to separating the drawn and photoengraved images in 1st Etchings, Johns reworked all of that portfolio’s copperplates to produce 1st Etchings, 2nd State. (Although 1st Etchings is not titled 1st Etchings, 1st State, the prints essentially became "first states" once the second portfolio was made.) For the second states, Johns added aquatint an etching process for which a powdery acid-resist is adhered to a copperplate in its entirety or selectively, to create image areas with a granular surface. or open-bite an etching process in which acid corrodes open areas of the copperplate that then print as a mottled tone, lacking the granular character of aquatint. areas (fig. a) to all the line etchings the image is drawn on the copperplate with a sharp tool through an acid-resist ground. Tonal methods include aquatint and open-bite. (fig. b) and added etched lines and open-bite fields to the photoengravings. Throughout the process, the printer made proofs that enabled the artist to evaluate these changes.

The assembled proofs for the two portfolios show many of Johns’ concerns as he developed each series and reveal variations in ink colors and tonalities, as well as in paper formats, textures, and sizes. Three proofs for 1st Etchings: Paintbrushes

1st Etchings: Paintbrushes, 1967
(l to r) 2004.167.60; 2004.167.59; 2004.167.61
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Patrons' Permanent Fund. Art Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
, for example, show that Johns experimented with different placements for the etched and photoengraved plates, layering them atop one another in two examples and eventually setting them adjacent to each other on the page.

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