Art Basel 2021

Page 1


On the cover: Donald Judd

Untitled, 1969



SUSAN SHEEHAN GALLERY 136 East 16th Street New York, NY 10003 212-489-3331

Jasper Johns 0-9, 1963 Medium: Lithographs Sheet Size: 20 1/2 x 15 3/4 inches, each Printer: ULAE, West Islip, New York Publisher: ULAE, West Islip, New York Catalogue Raisonné: ULAE 18 Edition Size: 10, plus proofs Each sheet is signed, dated, and numbered in pencil, lower margin This portfolio retains the title page, printed introduction by Rober Rosenblum, and colophon all contained in a linen folder in a basswood box stamped with the edition number.

Jasper Johns (b. 1930) created his first prints in 1960 when Tatyana Grossman invited him to Universal Limited Art Editions (ULAE) on Long Island, New York. The medium enabled Johns to investigate the possibilities of layering, repeating, and obscuring in new, process-driven ways. That year, Johns created his first lithograph featuring numbers, in which the symbols appear layered on top of each other at the same scale, simultaneously identifiable and illegible. As with his use of other quotidian symbols, numerals interested Johns because they are “seen and not looked at.” By 1963, Johns completed this portfolio, in which each number is singled out. By enlarging and isolating the numbers zero through nine, Johns emphasizes the aesthetic qualities of each numeral.

Left Johns working at Universal Limited Art Editions, West Islip, New York, 1962

The series began with Johns drawing of 0 on a lithographic stone in the summer of 1960. He returned to this stone in the summer of 1963 and printed this initial drawing ten times in black ink, ten times in gray ink, and ten times in color. Afterwards, Johns modified the stone to create the number 1. This process repeated itself through the printing of the number 9, using the same stone throughout the entire edition. The incremental modifications Johns made in the stone both reveal and conceal the marks of each print’s numerical predecessor. Furthermore, each of the thirty resulting prints belongs to its own portfolio of ten lithographs as well as to its triplet group. The complexity of the relationship of each print to one another points to the thoroughness of Johns’ investigation into the concepts of repetition, procession, and symbolism.

Left Johns working at Universal Limited Art Editions, West Islip, New York, 1963

Johns continually returned to numerals throughout his career, more-so than any other motif, making this portfolio an important, early example of this lifelong interest. The introductory essay by Robert Rosenblum states, “above all, the inexhaustible richness of these lithographs lies in the step-by-step unfolding of this ten-part narrative drama, which becomes a metaphor for the organic disclosure of the artistic process itself.”

Right Johns and Leo Castelli at Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, 1964

Jackson Pollock Untitled, 1951 Medium: Screenprints Sheet Size: Five measure 17 x 22 inches; one measures 19 x 17 inches Printer: The artist and his brother, Sanford McCoy, Deep River, Connecticut Catalogue Raisonné: F.V. O’Connor, E.V. Thaw 1091-1096 Edition Size: Approximately 30 One print signed, dated and numbered in black ink The extremely rare, complete portfolio.

In 1951, Jackson Pollock (1912–1956) and his brother, Sanford McCoy, made this set of screenprints based on six of the twenty-eight oil and enamel paintings that Pollock had executed between May and September of that year. This project, completed at McCoy’s commercial screenprinting establishment, coincided with the opening of Pollock’s fifth and last solo exhibition at Betty Parsons Gallery, New York which took place in November and December of 1951.

Left Pollock with Number 22, Springs, New York, 1950

The suggestion to create prints for the occasion of the show’s opening came from Pollock’s friend the sculptor Tony Smith. Perhaps anticipating prints as a low-cost way for potential clients to “own a Pollock,” Pollock heeded Smith’s advice and delivered an unknown number of impressions of the six screenprints to the gallery. His intention was to sell the prints as a set of six, enclosed in a portfolio cover. The portfolios did not sell at the exhibition and Pollock subsequently signed a small number of the prints individually. At some point, some of these sheets were assembled into sets and sold or given away, along with some individual images. The individual prints are sometimes signed and dated with somewhat random edition numbering. Complete portfolios, like the exhibited example, are exceedingly rare. This set has one image signed, dated and numbered.

Right Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, and Tony Smith at the Betty Parsons _____.Gallery, New York, 1951

The size of the edition is not confirmed as Pollock did not sign or number all of the prints, and sometimes noted on a print an edition size of twenty-five, thirty, or none at all. A further edition of fifty sets was printed posthumously in 1964 by Lee Krasner and the Pollock Estate, these are distinguished from the lifetime impressions by the inclusion of a stamp from the Pollock Estate and the numbering of the edition at 50.

Left Lee Krasner with a print from the posthumous edition, Springs, New York, 1980

Ellsworth Kelly Colored Paper Image XVI (Blue Yellow Red), 1976 Medium: Colored and pressed paper pulp Sheet Size: 32 1/4 x 31 1/4 inches Printer: Tyler Graphics Ltd., Bedford, New York Publisher: Tyler Graphics Ltd., Bedford, New York Catalogue Raisonné: Axsom 156 Edition Size: 24, plus proofs Signed and numbered in pencil, lower margin

A key figure in postwar abstraction, Ellsworth Kelly’s art emphasizes pure form and color. In addition to painting and sculpture, printmaking became an important part of Kelly’s oeuvre beginning in the 1960s. His collaborations with printmaker Kenneth Tyler would include the highly experimental paper pulp series, Colored Paper Images. When unveiled in 1977, they stood apart from the crisp angles and curves and pristine surfaces for which Kelly was best known. In contrast, Colored Paper Images features somewhat erratic edges, irregular textures, and pools and drifts of color. The twenty-five works in this series were created by ladling colored paper pulp into molds. Kelly created the molds for his curvilinear and rectilinear shapes with flexible metal rulers, masking tape, and acetate. He then used the pressure of the printing press to fuse the colored pulp to a wet sheet of paper resulting in this experimental and refined body of work.

Right Ellsworth Kelly, Kenneth Tyler, and John Koller working on the Colored Paper _____.Images series at Tyler Graphics Ltd., Bedford, New York, 1976

The series retains the basic characteristics of Kelly’s work: his vocabulary of geometric shapes, curves, arcs, and his brilliant use of color. It also continues Kelly’s ongoing dialogue about perceptions of forms. However, the bleed of the wet paper pulp prevents the shapes from achieving a clean edge, while the tactile texture of the handmade paper and pulp introduces a new variability of surface. The unpredictable nature of the materials allows chance to enter into Kelly’s highly controlled working process. The result is significant variations between impressions within each edition and because of this, Kelly referred to the works as unique drawings. This series inspired other artists to engage in this medium including David Hockney, who upon viewing Kelly’s work, set about creating his seminal series, Paper Pools, in the late 1970s. In 2012, the series formed the exhibition Ellsworth Kelly: Colored Paper Images at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. Works from this series are also included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, both in New York.

Left Ellsworth Kelly at Tyler Graphics Ltd., Bedford, New York, 1976

Donald Judd Untitled, 1961-63/1969 Medium: Woodcuts Sheet Size: 30 1/4 x 21 3/4 inches, each Printer: Roy C. Judd Publisher: Edition der Galerie Heiner Friedrich, Munich Catalogue Raisonné: Schellmann 63, 64, 66-74, 37, and 39 Edition Size: 12 Each sheet is signed in pencil, recto and titled twice, numbered, dated, and initialed by Roy C The exceedingly rare and probably unique complete portfolio, possibly assembled by Heiner

C. Judd in pencil, verso Friedrich.

The Eng exh

By at t Am Ru Jud

In 1 wo Log exi new arti gro

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Left Lisso

e exhibited set of thirteen color woodcuts descended in the family of the distinguished glish collector E.J. (“Ted”) Power. Power bought the set at Judd’s very first London gallery hibition at Lisson Gallery in 1970. We believe that this extraordinary set is unique.

1970, Donald Judd had a successful career as an artist in New York, with solo shows the Green Gallery, Leo Castelli Gallery and a museum survey at the Whitney Museum of merican Art. He had also exhibited abroad at Galerie Ileana Sonnabend, Paris and Galerie udolf Zwirner, Cologne. But it wasn’t until he met Nicolas Logsdail of Lisson Gallery that dd would debut his works in London.

1967, Logsdail converted his studio space in Lisson Grove, London into a gallery that ould become a hub for international minimal and conceptual artists. “When we opened,” gsdail explains, “we were one of only about three contemporary galleries that actually isted in London of any significance.” The dealer made his first trip to New York in search of w talent. He met Donald Judd and Sol LeWitt and, in 1970, staged a joint show of the two ists. Lisson Gallery continued to exhibit Judd’s work with four solo exhibitions and five oup exhibitions between 1974 and 1993.

e poster that advertised the 1970 exhibition simply stated “DON JUDD, SOL LE WITT, RST LONDON SHOW OF MINIMAL GRAPHICS AND DRAWINGS.” The Judd Foundation ains a letter from Logsdail to Judd written after the show’s opening in which Logsdail ported, “We sold a complete set of parallelogram prints to the English collector E.J. Power, hich I thought you should know.” Power, a trustee of the Tate Gallery (the predecessor to te Britain, Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool, and Tate St Ives), was a pioneering British collector contemporary art. His engagement with leading young and mid-career American artists abled him to assemble a legendary collection.

on Gallery exhibition poster, London, 1970

Above Judd, Unknown, Lauretta Vinciarelli, and Heiner Friedrich, 1977

The parallelogram woodcuts were first printed by Judd and his father Roy C. Judd between 1961 and 1963. The early impressions are printed on both etching and fibrous Japanese paper. The artist then printed a small number of impressions on smooth cartridge paper that were published by Edition der Galerie Heiner Friedrich, Munich, in 1969. Friedrich and his wife Phillipa de Menil, daughter of Texas collectors and patrons Dominique and John de Menil, were early financial supporters of Judd’s endeavors in Marfa, Texas. They also co-founded the Dia Art Foundation. The catalogue raisonné of Judd’s prints states that Friedrich assembled these particular parallelogram images into a set, perhaps with the intention of selling them at the Lisson show that specifically included “graphics.” Each print in this set is signed on the verso with matching edition numbers.

Agnes Martin On a Clear Day, 1973 Medium: Screenprints Sheet Size: 12 1/8 x 12 1/8 inches, each Printer: Edition Domberger, Stuttgart Publisher: Parasol Press, Ltd., New York Edition Size: 30, plus proofs Each sheet is signed and numbered in pencil, lower margin This rare portfolio retains the original mats, colophon, and black leather portfolio box.

In 1967, Agnes Martin (1912–2004) moved from New York to an isolated mesa in New Mexico. This environment would have been familiar to Martin as she, along with other turn of the century artists, had lived in Taos in the late 40s and mid 50s. It was during this time that Martin created her first paintings, earning her an invitation from gallery owner Betty Parsons to move to New York to pursue a career as an artist in 1957. After ten years in the city, Martin returned to the west, traveling for 18 months before settling down in seclusion just beyond the village of Cuba, New Mexico. In this time of transition, Martin ceased making art from 1967 to 1973. The portfolio On A Clear Day was made at the end of this transitory period and inaugurated the second phase of Martin’s career. It was in part initiated by Robert Feldman, owner of Parasol Press, a fine art print publisher in New York City.

Left Martin, New Mexico, c.1947

In 1970, Feldma she make etchin different medium drawn lines whic Martin’s initial d Martin travelled printer at Crown the director loan pin them was th

Above Martin’s notes, 1975

an visited Martin to encourage her to work with him to make prints. He suggested that ngs which could be executed at Crown Point Press in California. Martin, however, had a m in mind. Silkscreen, Martin insisted, would be more conducive to creating straight, hand ch she felt would more closely achieve the work’s “ideal of perfection.” Feldman then sent drawings to master printer Luitpold Domberger at Edition Domberger in Germany. In 1972, d to Stuttgart to work on the project with Domberger. Kathan Brown, owner and master n Point Press, accompanied Martin on this visit and recalls “there was no artist’s studio, but ned Agnes his office so she could pin up proofs and look quietly at them. The only place to he back of the door, which occasionally opened, but it worked out all right.”

Indeed, it worked out. By 1973, On a Clear Day, Martin’s first portfolio of prints, was completed. Later that year, it was shown at Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, the Fine Arts Museum, Santa Fe, Chinati Foundation, Marfa, and Gallery Von Bartha, Switzerland, each hosted On a Clear Day exhibitions between 1974 and 2000. In 1975, Martin wrote, “These prints express innosence [sic] of mind. If you can go with them and hold your mind as emty [sic] and tranquil as they are and recognize your feelings at the same time you will realize your full response to this work.”

Left Martin near her house in Cuba, New Mexico, 1974

Ellsworth Kelly Untitled (Red/Blue), ca. 1962-64 Medium: Silkscreen ink and painted collage on paper Sheet Size: 21 7/8 x 26 5/16 inches

This rare collage from the early 1960s relates to Ellsworth Kelly’s 1964 oil painting Red Blue in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. The collage also served as a preparatory image for Kelly’s first published screenprint which was included in the 1964 portfolio X by X, commissioned by the Wadsworth Atheneum under the direction of the legendary curator Samuel J. Wagstaff. In each of these three works, a vibrant, red curve is set against a background of solid blue. Because the collage is composed of painted, colored paper pasted atop a silkscreened sheet, a unique dimensionality can be faintly perceived at the work’s periphery as the red curve breaches the perimeter of the blue rectangle beneath.

Right Agnes Martin with Ellsworth Kelly in his studio, New York, 1957

Above Compositions from Kelly’s sketchbook,1948 to 1973

This curved composition can be seen in other works by Kelly from the 1960s in a variety of media. In Ellsworth Kelly, Tablet: 1948-1973, a complete reprinting of the artist’s sketchbook from this period, multiple studies in pencil place the curved shape in various positions on a rectangle of comparable portions, though the red and blue colors are absent. Blue on Blue, a monumental work of painted aluminum measuring over seven feet high from 1963, features a similar curved shape atop a rectangular background. In this case, the curve expands beyond both the left and right borders of the rectangle recessed beneath. In the 1964 painting Orange Green in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the exact scale and composition of shapes as Red Blue can be seen, though rendered in a different color scheme. Kelly’s objective in creating iterations of this particular composition is explained in Ellsworth Kelly by E. C. Goosen as experimentations in creating tension in his work. As Goosen writes, “When round and straight meet—the ball of the floor, the egg on the table—precariousness and unpredictability come into the picture… Here Kelly breaks an old rule laid down in the days of representational illusionism: ‘A shape must be either in the rectangle or convincingly mostly out of it—but never tangential to a side.’” Kelly explores and challenges this rule in these 1960s works. Through careful choice of color value and small adjustments to the placement of the curved shape either within or atop a rectangular plane, Kelly masterfully manipulates our perceptions of figure and ground as well as depth and tension.

Left Kelly at his Broad Street studio, New York, 1956

Helen Frankenthaler Book of Clouds, 2007 Medium: Aquatint etching, woodcut, and pochoir with hand-coloring Sheet Size: 35 5/8 x 68 1/4 inches Printer: Pace Prints, New York Publisher: Pace Prints, New York Edition Size: 30, plus proofs Signed and numbered in pencil

Donald Judd Untitled, 1988 Medium: Woodcuts Sheet Size: 23 1/2 x 31 1/2 inches, each Printer: Derrière l’Etoile Studios Publisher: Brooke Alexander Editions, New York Catalogue Raisonné: Schellmann 157-166 Edition Size: 25, plus proofs Each sheet is signed and numbered in pencil, verso The rare, complete portfolio.

For most of his career, Donald Judd (1928-1994) worked with skilled fabricators to produce almost all aspects of his art. Judd enlisted his father Roy C. Judd, an experienced woodworker, to assist in his early printmaking endeavors. The senior Judd carved and printed many of his son’s woodblocks beginning in the early 1960s. This art-making partnership enabled Judd to work efficiently, producing many variations of mirrored rhomboids along with other of his early printed images. In the mid-1980s, Judd departed from his early subjects which included rounded organic shapes and the parallelogram and started to explore the possibility of new forms. He also began to think in terms of large sets of color woodcuts that were professionally printed and formally published. The 1986 woodcut For Joseph Beuys marked an important turning point in the artist’s printmaking practice. This image was part of a multi-artist, mixed media portfolio that was conceived and published to commemorate Beuys’ death a year earlier. The woodcut image that Judd produced for this project depicts a single-color field which echoes the rectangular shape of the paper. With this work, the artist returned to his investigations of iterative rectangles in this medium which he had initiated in his woodcuts of the 1960s.

Right Judd in his print studio, Marfa, Texas, 1982

In this Untitled set of ten woodcuts from 1988, Judd created a rhythmic series of rectangles proportional to the sheets of fibrous wove paper on which each was printed. The set of ten consists of five printed pairs: five woodcuts in cadmium red and the accompanying negation of each composition. Together, the ten prints create an alternating pattern of vibrant shapes and analogous paper voids. The pairs of rectangles, with the exception of the first, are subdivided into halves and thirds, compounding the set’s symmetrical element. The woodcuts can also be viewed as a rendering of Judd’s three-dimensional objects as representations of inner volumes and outer frames are flattened into a lesser dimension. Complete sets of these prints are rare. Other complete sets are held in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Currier Museum of Art, New Hampshire, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California.

Left Judd in his print studio, Marfa, Texas, 1982

Andy Warhol Race Riot, 1963 Medium: Screenprint on paper Sheet Size: 30 1/8 x 40 inches Printer: Andy Warhol and Gerard Malanga Catalogue Raisonné: Feldmann and Schellmann I.4b

In April of 1963, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference joined local Birmingham, Alabama activists in a massive campaign to address the city’s long-standing and oppressive segregation practices. Civil rights activists also participated in sit-ins, marches on city hall, boycotts, and other forms of non-violent protest. In May, over a thousand African American students attempted to peacefully march into downtown Birmingham, resulting in many arrests. When hundreds more gathered to continue the march, local police and fire departments used excessive force to halt the demonstrations. A local freelance photographer named Charles Moore documented these events. His photos of students being blasted by high power fire hoses and attacked by German shepherd police dogs were published in a photo essay for LIFE magazine which appeared on newsstands on May 17th, 1963. These images inspired President John F. Kennedy to remark, “The events in Birmingham have so increased the cries for equality that no city or state or legislative body can prudently choose to ignore them.”

Right Warhol with Little Race Riot, New York, 1964

In the early 1960s, Andy Warhol had begun experimenting with photographic silkscreens on both paper and canvas. Warhol considered these works to be “unique drawings” and “unique paintings” even though, by definition, screenprinting was historically used for printing multiple and, ideally, identical copies from a single image on a screen. As he once explained, “With silkscreening, you pick a photograph, blow it up, transfer it in glue onto silk, and then roll ink across so that the ink goes through the silk but not through the glue. That way you get the same image, slightly different each time.” Using this technique in 1963 and 1964, Warhol created a group of unique drawings and paintings using three of photographer Charles Moore’s images of the 1963 Birmingham riots. The resulting screenprinted images on canvas became known as his Race Riot paintings. One of these Race Riot paintings was included in Warhol’s first solo European exhibition at Galerie Ileana Sonnabend, Paris in 1964 which showcased his Death and Disaster paintings, Warhol’s most celebrated body of work from the period. In 1963, with his newly hired studio assistant, Gerard Malanga, Warhol was able to create these large scale screenprinted paintings and drawings; something he could not do previously because of the unwieldy size of the screenprint frames he wanted to use. These images were printed on canvas and paper in monochromatic tones and screened in a method that retained the graininess of the original photos. Though Warhol stated that he did not seek to engage in political commentary with Moore’s images, Malanga recalls Warhol referring to the 1963 event as “a blot on the American conscience.”

Right Gerard Malanga and Warhol at The Factory, New York, 1964

In Warhol’s copy of LIFE, preserved at The Andy Warhol Museum, penciled-in notations next to Moore’s images read, “please make contrasts very black and white” and “three separate screens.” Ten Race Riot paintings (four large paintings from 1963 and six small paintings from 1964) utilize these three separate screens in ways distinctly different from this unique 1963 Race Riot drawing. For example, the large 1963 painting Race Riot only uses the screen of the Moore photograph in the bottom left of the LIFE spread while the 1963 drawings use the screen of the Moore photograph positioned in the upper left of the spread. Each of the other three large paintings use all three screens to create immense, multiimage compositions. It is likely that the same large screen of Moore’s image used for this drawing was also used in each of these three large paintings. In the six additional Little Race Riot paintings of 1964, the screen of the Moore photograph in the bottom left of the spread is used. This exceedingly rare and important early drawing, made contemporaneously with Warhol’s Race Riot paintings and related to one of Warhol’s seminal subjects of the early 1960s, exists in probably less than ten examples.

Right Warhol’s notes with pages from Moore’s photographs in LIFE, May 17, 1963

Glenn Ligon Runaways, 1993 Medium: Lithographs Sheet Size: 15 1/2 x 11 1/2 inches, each Printer: Burnet Editions Master Printers, New York Publisher: Max Protetch, New York Edition Size: 45 Each sheet is signed, dated, and numbered in pencil, lower margin The complete portfolio.

Runaways is one of Glenn Ligon’s (b. 1960) best-known print series from the 1990s, when he began to develop his now signature use of stencil-based imagery. The series debuted in To Disembark, the artist’s 1993 installation of nine audio sculptures and two series of prints at the Hirshhorn in Washington, D.C.. The culmination of these works, Ligon explains, engages with “the idea of race as a social category. Race is not something inherent to one’s being: One does feel more or less colored, depending on the situation.”

Right Ligon, New York, 1992

Left Ab

Produced with the help of master printmaker Gregory Burnet, To Disembark’s printed content is derived from techniques associated with 19th century large-scale image manufacturing, specifically those used to print broadsides. However, the richness of the prints’ dark brown inks and the quality of the cream-colored paper depart from the materials used for such historic ephemera. To create Runaways, Ligon enlisted the help of ten friends, asking each to “provide a verbal account of [him] as though reporting his disappearance to the police.” He paired these descriptions with images sourced from Abolitionist pamphlets as well as broadsides announcing runaway slaves, replicating the typographic layout of the latter. The resulting descriptions of Ligon often contradict each other, highlighting the problematic subjectivity of eyewitness testimony and objectification of black men through racial profiling. Runaways points to similarities between racial slavery historically and some aspects of our criminal justice system presently. In Ligon’s words, “Runaways is broadly about how an individual’s identity is inextricable from the way one is positioned in the culture, from the ways people see you, from historical and political contexts.”

bolition publication, 1837

Vija Celmins Starfield, 2010 Medium: Mezzotint and drypoint Sheet Size: 26 1/4 x 35 3/4 inches Printer: Simmelink/Sukimoto Editions, Los Angeles, California Publisher: Simmelink/Sukimoto Editions, Los Angeles, California Edition Size: 30, plus proofs Signed, dated, and numbered in pencil, lower margin

This image by Vija Celmins combines two printmaking techniques, mezzotint and drypoint. While the former allows Celmins to achieve varying shades of black and gray, drypoint enables the articulation of minute details. The subject of Starfield mirrors this marriage of mediums, as the vastness of the galactic sky contrasts with each uniquely individual star. To produce the print, Celmins applied both techniques to two etching plates, which were placed side-by-side—a decision evidenced by the thin line that bisects the paper. Celmins frequently leaves traces of her method in her prints and paintings, deliberately disrupting their illusionistic qualities with borders to bring the viewer’s attention back to the surface of the artwork. In Starfield, the line dividing the page also alludes to her use of images found in scientific publications for her night sky works. With this in mind, Starfield reads like an interior spread of a magazine.

Left Celmins in the Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles, 2002

Cy Twombly Untitled, 1971 Medium: Lithograph Sheet Size: 21 3/4 X 29 1/2 inches Printer: Robert Peterson, Captiva Island, Florida Publisher: Untitled Press, Inc., Captiva Island, Florida Catalogue Raisonné: Bastian 33 Edition size: 26, plus proofs Signed, dated, and numbered in pencil, lower margin

Jasper Johns Gray Alphabets, 1968 Medium: Lithograph Sheet Size: 59 7/8 by 41 7/8 inches Printer: Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles, California Publisher: Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles, California Catalogue Raisonné: ULAE 57 Edition Size: 59, plus proofs Signed, dated, and numbered in pencil, lower margin

Jasper J painting, stencils a aesthetic an ostens colors to

Working using fou the letter chaotic y individua

Many of letters. B or chalkb from cert

Aside fro Johns ha of Johns’

Left Johns at G

Johns (b. 1930) created his first artwork containing letters of the alphabet in 1956. The Gray Alphabets, was also his first in gray coloration. Through his use of commercial and an orderly grid-like composition, the painting transforms the recognizable symbols into c objects or painterly gestures, drawing attention to the ways in which written language is sibly arbitrary invention. Twelve years later, Johns returned to these symbols, themes, and o create this lithograph of the same name.

with the master printers at Gemini G.E.L. in Los Angeles, Johns created Gray Alphabets ur different shades of gray and four different matrices, in addition to stamps and stencils of rs. Johns also used water-tusche to affect a graphite wash. The resulting print is at once yet orderly, featuring perfectly scaled letters lined up in rows, each symbol following its own al yet uniform gridlines.

Johns’ artworks featuring the alphabet were inspired by childhood toys painted with By evoking graphite in his use of gray, Johns also conjures images of a school worksheet board. This may lead the viewer to wonder whether the darker gray shades are not absent tain areas of the print, but rather have been erased.

om its technical complexity, Gray Alphabets is remarkably large—one of the largest prints as ever produced. It is an exceptional feat in the medium, and the work is a unique example ’ experimentation with one of his signature motifs.

Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles, 1968

SUSAN SHEEHAN GALLERY 136 East 16th Street New York, NY 10003 Tel: 1-212 489-3331

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