JASPER JOHNS – Periscope.
Color etching and aquatint on Rives BFK, 1981. 860×613 mm; 33 7/8×24 1/8 inches, full margins. Signed, dated and numbered 84/88 in pencil, lower margin.
Jasper Johns (born May 15, 1930) is an American painter, sculptor and printmaker whose work is associated with abstract expressionism, Neo-Dada, and pop art. He is well known for his depictions of the American flag and other US-related topics.
Johns has received many honors throughout his career, including receipt of the National Medal of Arts in 1990, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. In 2018, The New York Times called him the United States’ “foremost living artist.”
In 1998, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York bought Johns’ White Flag for an estimated $20 million. The National Gallery of Art acquired about 1,700 of Johns’ proofs in 2007. This made the gallery home to the largest number of Johns’ works held by a single institution. The Greenville County Museum of Art in Greenville, South Carolina, has several of his pieces in their permanent collection.
In 1980 the Whitney Museum of American Art paid $1 million for Three Flags (1958), then the highest price ever paid for the work of a living artist. In 1988, Johns’ False Start was sold at auction at Sotheby’s to Samuel I. Newhouse, Jr. for $17.05 million, setting a record at the time as the highest price paid for a work by a living artist at auction, and the second highest price paid for an artwork at auction in the U.S. In 2006, private collectors Anne and Kenneth Griffin (founder of the Chicago-based hedge fund Citadel LLC) bought False Start (1959) from David Geffen for $80 million, making it the most expensive painting by a living artist. On November 11, 2014, a 1983 version of Flag was auctioned at Sotheby’s in New York for $36 million, establishing a new auction record for Johns.
The most expensive work sold of Jasper Johns was Flag (1958), one of a series, was sold privately to hedge fund billionaire Steven A. Cohen in 2010 for a reported $110 million (then £73 million; €81.7 million).
Since the 1980s, Johns typically produces only four to five paintings a year; some years he produces none. His large-scale paintings are much favored by collectors and because of their rarity are extremely difficult to acquire. His works from the mid to late 1950s, typically viewed as his period of rebellion against abstract expressionism, remain his most sought after. Skate’s Art Market Research (Skate Press, Ltd.), a New York-based advisory firm servicing private and institutional investors in the art market, has ranked Jasper Johns as the 30th most valuable artist in the world.
Johns was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1984. In 1990, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts. On February 15, 2011 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama, becoming the first painter or sculptor to receive a Presidential Medal of Freedom since Alexander Calder in 1977. In 1990 he was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate member and became a full Academician in 1994.