Jasper Johns (b. 1930)
Leo, 1997; Etching on Hahnemuhle Copperplate paper; Numbered LXI/XC lower left and signed Jasper Johns and dated '97 lower right; Published by Noblet Serigraphie, Inc., New York; Size - Sheet 37 x 27"; Unframed.
"Take an object. Do something to it. Do something else to it" - Jasper Johns
Jasper Johns (b. 1930) is an American painter, sculptor, and printmaker who is associated with Abstract Expressionism, Neo-Dada, and Pop Art. The early artwork of the late 50's and early 60's were composed using pop culture imagery such as flags, maps, targets, and letters and numbers. The surface of the work is painterly and other media were often incorporated such as plaster relief, encaustic, and/or collage. The choice of popular culture iconography in which to launch a work eliminated the need for subject, and allowed for free and familiar associations. Johns was able to incorporate and present opposites, contradictions, paradoxes, and ironies that led back to the artistic principles of Marcel Duchamp and the DADA art movement. Jasper John's artwork is collected by all major world art museums and his most expensive painting "Flag," 1958 was sold by Jean-Christophe Castelli in 2010 to the billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen for a reported $110 million.
Leo Castelli (1907-1999) was an Italian-American art dealer whose New York Gallery showcased contemporary art for five decades. Among the art movements showed were Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Neo-Dada, Pop Art, Op Art, Color Field, Hard-edge painting, Lyrical Abstraction, Minimal Art ,
Conceptual Art, and Neo-expressionism. He gave Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, and Frank Stella their first one man shows. Castelli had in his stable the following historically significant artists: Larry Poons, Lee Bontecou, James Rosenquist, Andy Warhol, Robert Morris, Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Cy Twombly, Ronald Davis, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra, Bruce Nauman, and Joseph Kosuth.
"Leo," 1997 was one of nine prints that were commissioned by Leo Castelli's son Jean-Christophe to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Leo Castelli Gallery and as a ninetieth birthday present for his father. The artists chosen to participate all were strongly associated with the Castelli Gallery at some point in their career and included: Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Joseph Kosuth, Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Serra, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, Edward Ruscha, and Bruce Nauman. The edition size of the resulting portfolio of nine prints corresponded to Leo Castelli's birthday in 1997 when he turned 90 years old. The first two portfolios were presented to Leo Castelli, with the first being a birthday gift and the second being displayed in the Castelli Gallery. The vast majority of the other 88 sets were given by Jean-Christophe to major museums and institutions around the world; making individual prints from the portfolios extremely rare.
"Leo," is a large and extremely well executed work of art. It has as it's central focus three stick figures, carrying what appears to be brushes; which is a strong reference to the successful artists of the Leo Castelli Gallery. The figures are walking under a night sky with the constellation Leo above them. The idea that the constellation of Leo (Leo Castelli) is guiding the artists through the darkness, is a brilliant and witty double entendre. A rare and exceptionally well composed work by Jasper Johns, and a great addition to any art collection.
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