The Leslie & Johanna Garfield Collection: A Celebration of Prints Evening Sale

The Leslie & Johanna Garfield Collection: A Celebration of Prints Evening Sale

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 16. 1st Etchings (ULAE 43).

Jasper Johns

1st Etchings (ULAE 43)

Auction Closed

October 18, 10:59 PM GMT


50,000 - 70,000 USD

Lot Details


Jasper Johns


1st Etchings (ULAE 43)

The complete portfolio, comprising six etchings with photo-engraving, 1968, each signed in pencil, dated and numbered 17/26 (total edition includes two artist's proofs), with the seventh etching attached to the title page and printed in relief on the colophon, also signed in felt-tip pen, dated and numbered on the title page, on Angoumois paper, each with the blindstamp of the publsiher, ULAE, contained in the original basswood portfolio inlaid with a Ballantine Ale can, signed in ink on the cover, dated and titled and stamp-numbered 17/26 (7 prints)

sheets approx.: 650 by 510 mm 25⅝ by 20 in

overall: 710 by 565 by 38 mm 27⅞ by 22¼ by 1½ in

New York, Lorence-Monk Gallery, Jasper Johns Etchings: 1967 - 1989, October - November 1989

Brazil, São Paulo, Instituto Tomie Ohtake, Jasper Johns: Pairs, Trios, Portfolios, June - August 2012

“I’m always interested in the physical form of whatever I’m doing and often repeat an image in another physical form just to see what happens, what the difference is....” – Jasper Johns (Jasper Johns quoted in "An Interview with Jasper Johns about Silkcreening", Jasper Johns, Prints from the Leo Castelli Collection, 1991, p. 23)

Together, 1st Etchings and 1st Etchings, 2nd State provide a remarkable glimpse into the prolific draftsmanship and conceptual vision that have characterized Jasper Johns’s titanic career for over six decades. Executed in 1967 and 1967-1969 respectively, the two portfolios lay bare the mastery that has cemented Johns’s place alongside Dürer, Rembrandt, Goya, Munch, and Picasso as one of the greatest printmakers of any era. 

Consistent throughout 1st Etchings and 1st Etchings, 2nd State are careful renderings of some of Johns’s most recognizable motifs: the flags, ale cans, numbers, and paint brushes that form his signature visual lexicon. Referred to as “things the mind already knows,” Johns’s found objects were carefully chosen because of their ubiquity in everyday life, thus allowing him to perform controlled examinations on form and meaning [1]. The objects that are presented here as early print versions have also been explored by Johns in other media, be it sculpture, painting, or drawing. These variations on a theme speak to the curiosity and precision that are integral to Johns’s approach to printmaking. Careful changes to ink tonalities, paper formats, and plate placements reveal a relentless pursuit of experimentation with recognizable iconography.

Embodying the Duchampian spirit of appropriating and recontextualizing forms, 1st Etchings and 1st Etchings, 2nd State are rich surveys of Jasper Johns’s influential oeuvre. Johns’s repeated manipulations of found objects epitomize an innovative style of representation that helped to usher in the Pop, Minimal, and Conceptual Art movements. Across the two present portfolios, Johns tests the visual possibilities of printmaking; the resulting close studies are achievements that are demanding and rewarding in equal measure.

[1] Jasper Johns quoted in Leo Steinberg, "Jasper Johns: The First Seven Years of His Art", in Other Criteria (New York: Oxford University Press, 1972; first pub'd in Metro, Nos. 4 /5 , 1962, and by George Wittenborn, New York, 1963), pp. 31