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MAGNIFICENT GESTURES: MASTERWORKS FROM THE DIAMONSTEIN-SPIELVOGEL COLLECTION FULL PROCEEDS TO BENEFIT A NOT-FOR-PROFIT CHARITABLE FOUNDATION

Jasper Johns
UNTITLED
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
800,0001,200,000
LOT SOLD. 975,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
16

MAGNIFICENT GESTURES: MASTERWORKS FROM THE DIAMONSTEIN-SPIELVOGEL COLLECTION FULL PROCEEDS TO BENEFIT A NOT-FOR-PROFIT CHARITABLE FOUNDATION

Jasper Johns
UNTITLED
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
800,0001,200,000
LOT SOLD. 975,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York

Jasper Johns
B.1930
UNTITLED
signed, dated 1988 and inscribed ST. MARTIN, F.W.I. + STONY POINT, N.Y. 
watercolor and pencil on paper
22 3/8 by 30 7/8 in. 56.8 by 78.4 cm.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

This work will be included in the forthcoming Jasper Johns Catalogue Raisonné of Drawings being prepared and published by the Menil Foundation as a project of the Menil Drawing Institute.

Provenance

Leo Castelli Gallery, New York (LC #D-267)
Acquired by the present owner from the above in January 1989

Exhibited

New York, P.P.O.W., Broken Landscape: Discarded Object, January – February 1989
Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art; Basel, Kunstmuseum Basel; London, Hayward Gallery; and New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, The Drawings of Jasper Johns, May 1990 - April 1991, pp. 308-309, no. 103, illustrated in color
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art; San Francisco, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and Minneapolis, Walker Art Center, Picasso and American Art, September 2006 - January 2007, p. 295, pl. 153, illustrated in color (New York venue only)

Literature

Exh. Cat., New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Jasper Johns: A Retrospective, 1996, p. 62, fig. 15, illustrated in color and p. 341 (text)
Roberta Bernstein, Jasper Johns, New York, 1992, n.p., pl. 15, illustrated in color
Kathleen Slavin, "Navigating Being, Navigating Phenomena: A Graphic Itinerary," Jasper Johns," Brussels, 1992, p. 47 (text) and p. 50, fig. 3, illustrated
Roberta Bernstein, ed., Jasper Johns: Catalogue Raisonné of Painting and Sculpture, Volume 1, New York, 2016, p. 257, fig. 9.15, illustrated in color
Roberta Bernstein, Jasper Johns: Redo an Eye, New York, 2017, p. 257, fig. 9.15, illustrated in color

Catalogue Note

A complex and intensely engaging work on paper, Jasper Johns’ Untitled from 1988 is an elegantly rendered, highly complex pastiche of Johns’ most significant influences. The drawing is also among a limited number of works featuring the female head motif from Pablo Picasso’s Woman in a Straw Hat, which the artist first saw in David Douglas Duncan’s book Picasso’s Picassos, the very same book that inspired his series of Seasons

Untitled, 1988 is an expertly executed watercolor and pencil drawing, whose exactitude and accuracy in its representation of its original sources exemplifies Johns' uncanny intellect. Anchoring the composition on the right hand side of the paper is an intimate vignette of a Rubins vase, tilting precariously into a thumbnail image of Picasso’s Woman in a Straw Hat. This particular Picasso held immense appeal for Johns, given its bizarre composition of forms and latent sexuality, which creates a psychological resonance not dissimilar to the art of the Surrealists. Johns has flipped the image so that the woman faces in, her nose pointing to the left toward the Rubins vase, a motif that appears elsewhere in Johns’ output. The Rubins vase illustrates the central challenge Johns continuously explored throughout his career: the figure-ground relationship. Read one way, the Rubins vase emerges as a vessel full of water, and indeed the drop spilling over the right hand edge inclines the viewer to perceive the image as such; however, the ‘negative space’ of the Rubins vase presents two figures in profile facing one another: Picasso's mirrored profile, which arguably is a stand-in in resemblance for Johns' visage. Johns takes as his source for the background of the image, Marcel Duchamp’s Bride, a painting reproduced as an etching by Jacques Villon. Cogs, wheels, tubes and other mechanical shapes fit together to compose a fictional machine that, when examined closely, resolves into a more anthropomorphized figure. As he flipped Picasso’s Woman in a Straw Hat, so too Johns alters Villon’s etching, rotating it 90 degrees and replacing the bottom fifth of the composition with a woodgrain print, a blunt reminder and emphasis on the flatness of the work.

Cubism, Dadaism and the Surreal collide in this one pictorial space, where form and flatness vie for supremacy. The tonality of light tan and gold, both in the woodgrain and reproduction of Villon’s etching, lend incredible depth to this work on paper, yet in the same vein as the Cubists, insist on its flatness. By appropriating the visual vocabulary of both Picasso and Duchamp, Johns situates himself within a larger art historical narrative as the heir to these two great masters who challenged the very nature of what art could or should be in the postmodern world.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York