Jasper Johns


Jasper Johns (b.1930) is one of the most celebrated artists of the 20th century. He had a major influence on the trajectory of American post-war art, encouraging the demise of Abstract Expressionism and the introduction of Pop Art.  He is best known for his singular vision as a painter and printmaker, using both loaded and banal symbols in his creations. 

Johns was discovered in the late 1950's by legendary art dealer Leo Castelli, who gave him his first one-man show. During the 1960's his fame and influence rapidly ascended. 

In his artistic practice, John's appropriated and depicted, everyday objects and simple schema like maps, targets, letters, and numbers. These banal and ubiquitous elements were frequently encountered in daily life, but irrelevant to art. By repeatedly presenting these motifs, Johns turned them into a continuous series. Johns helped usher representation back into the avant-garde, an important characteristic of Pop art. 

Johns began experimenting with printmaking around 1960 and quickly became a prolific master of the medium. 

The screenprint "Skull" features a stylized human skull placed towards the lighter end of a shaded greyscale which fades from black to white horizontally across the pictorial plane. Beneath this dramatic black-and-white composition is a thin, bold string of rainbow colors running parallel to the ombré. Drips and flecks of color create imperfect borders within each element of the composition. Brimming with allegory and a hint of mysticism, this striking work is one of John's finest and most sought after prints. 

"Skull" was created for the portfolio "Reality & Paradoxes" which included seven original prints, each done by a different artist. Other artists who created editioned works for the portfolio include Ed Ruscha, Robert Rauschenberg, and James Rosenquist. 

"Skull" can be found in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Whitney Museum in New York, and the National Gallery of Australia among others. It was also included in the major Jasper John's Print Retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. 

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"Untitled" (Skull) 

USA, 1973

Screenprint in colors on J.B. Green Wove Paper

Signed, dated, and numbered by the artist.

Printers blindstamp in lower left corner

Publishers ink stamp on verso

From an edition of 100

23.2"H 31.3"W 

Very good condition

Printed by Styria Studio Ltd,. Los Angeles

Published by Multiples Inc., New York 

Literature: Field, S. (1994). The Prints of Jasper Johns, 1960-1993: A Catalogue Raisonné. West Islip, New York: Universal Limited Art Editions Reference: Field (ULAE) 127

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