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On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… 显示更多 Masterpieces from the S.I. Newhouse Collection


oil and brass grommet on canvas
72 x 49 7/8 in. (182.9 x 126.7 cm.)
Executed in 1971
Leo Castelli Gallery, New York.
Victor and Sally Ganz, New York (1972);
Estate sale; Christie's, New York, 10 November 1997, lot 31.
Acquired at the above sale by the late owner.
R.D. Herrmann, "Johns the Pessimist," Artforum 16, no. 2, October 1977, pp. 26-33 (illustrated in color).
T. Hess, "Jasper Johns, Tell a Vision," New York Magazine, November 1977, pp. 109-111.
Jasper Johns: Working Proofs, exh. cat., London, Tate Gallery, 1980, pp. 40-41 (illustrated).
R. Francis, Jasper Johns, New York, 1984, pp. 68 and 74-76, fig. 76 (illustrated in color).
R. Bernstein, Jasper Johns' Paintings and Sculptures, 1954-1974: "The Changing Focus of the Eye," Ann Arbor, 1985, pp. 125-128 (illustrated, pl. 53).
Jasper Johns: The Seasons, exh. cat., New York, Leo Castelli Gallery, 1987.
Dancers on a Plane: Cage, Cunningham, Johns, exh. cat., London, Anthony d'Offay Gallery, 1989, p. 122, fig. 5 (illustrated).
G. Boudaille, Jasper Johns, New York, 1989, p. 20 (illustrated in color, pl. 67).
J. Elderfield, ed., American Art of the 1960s, New York, 1991, pp. 38-62, fig. 17 (illustrated in color).
R. Bernstein, Jasper Johns, New York, 1992.
Jasper Johns: Writings, Sketchbook Notes, Interviews, exh. cat., New York, The Museum of Modern Art, 1996, pp. 188, 191, 193, 200, 204, 211, 213 and 317.
M. FitzGerald, ed., A Life of Collecting: Victor and Sally Ganz, New York, 1997, pp. 22 and 88-111 (illustrated in color and installation view illustrated).
Jasper Johns: Regrets, exh. cat., New York, The Museum of Modern Art, 2014, p. 25, fig. 16 (illustrated in color).
R. Bernstein, Jasper Johns: Catalogue Raisonné of Painting and Sculpture, Volume 3, Painting, 1971-2014, New Haven and London, 2016, pp. 8-9, no. P180 (illustrated in color).
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, 1972 Annual Exhibition: Contemporary American Painting, January-March 1972, p. 9, no. 57.
Hempstead, Emily Lowe Gallery at Hofstra University, Jasper Johns Decoy: The Print and the Painting, September-October 1972, n.p. (illustrated).
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art; Cologne, Museum Ludwig in der Kunsthalle Koln; Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne; Tokyo, Seibu Museum of Art and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Jasper Johns, October 1977-December 1978, no. 146 (illustrated in color, New York), no. 112 (Cologne), no. 134 (London), no. 146 (Tokyo), no. 113 (San Francisco).
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Jasper Johns: A Print Retrospective, May-August 1986, p. 75 (illustrated in color).
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Jasper Johns: A Retrospective, October 1996-January 1997, p. 263, no. 144 (illustrated in color).
London, Royal Academy of Arts and Los Angeles, The Broad, Jasper Johns, September 2017-May 2018, pp. 8, 17 and 193 (illustrated in color, pl. 108).
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror, September 2021-February 2022, pp. 171 and 191, no. 13 (illustrated in color).
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.


Max Carter
Max Carter Vice Chairman, 20th and 21st Century Art, Americas


A seminal painting from 1971, Jasper Johns’s Decoy acts as a mini retrospective of the artist’s prodigious career up to this point, and a recapitulation of his ideas about representation and reproduction. It presents themes and motifs which have been the subject of artist’s gaze for nearly two decades and subjects them to a fresh interrogation. Thus, reproductions of Johns’s bronze sculptures from 1960 are layered together with the gestural brushwork of his Maps (1960 onwards), and combined with his technical interest in image and imitation, the result is a work that speaks to many of the artists concerns. The present work is the largest of two paintings that are a continuation of the artist’s celebrated Decoy prints, widely regarded as among the visually rich and complex of his editioned works. Exhibited in major retrospectives of the artist’s work and cited in much of the literature, Decoy comes with exceptional provenance, having been acquired by unrivalled collectors, Victor and Sally Ganz in 1972. They held it in their collection for twenty-five years, from where it was acquired by the present owner over two decades ago, remaining in his collection ever since.
Measuring six feet in height, the surface of this large-scale canvas is consists of a multi-layered composition bringing together painterly gestures and printed images together with conceptual representations of forms and color. Surrounded by a field of bold black brushwork, Johns situates one of his most familiar motifs in the center of the composition: an image of the famous Ballantine beer cans featured in Painted Bronze (1960; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York). Yet, closer consideration reveals that this is in fact a reproduction of a printed image of the can, as evidenced by the remnants of ghostly Ben-Day dots and the edit notes to an unseen assistant requesting a crop to the image and a reduction in its size. Surrounding the central beer can are other printed images, their fixed images counterbalanced by gestural brushwork that envelops the surface, in the process disrupting the perceived integrity of the photographic image. Traversing its way across the surface is a trail of colorful words, spelling out "red," "orange," "yellow," "green," "blue," and "violet." Johns first used the combination of words and colors in False Start in 1959, when he produced a dramatic canvas in which he broke the representative ties between the words and colors (i.e. "yellow" was executed in blue paint, and "white" was painted in red etc.). However, in Decoy the colors and their representation are reunited once more, with each word being painted in the correct shade of pigment. Interestingly, these motifs also add depth and structure to the surface of the work as they traverse down the picture plane, before "folding back" on themselves and appearing as a reverse impression of themselves, another nod to Johns’s new found interest in printmaking. This interplay between representation and reality continues in the lower section with reproductions of Johns’s iconic sculptural forms. The are taken from the cancelled plates of some of his first etchings, visibly scored with the "cancelation" line that runs through them, ensuring (in theory) that no more versions can be made. Finally, a brass grommet situated along the lower edge of this progression pierces the sanctity of the canvas’s surface, allowing us, as the viewer, to peer through the canvas into another dimension.
Thus, Decoy becomes the synthesis of the ideas and issues that Johns had been grappling with throughout his career. From the beginning, he has produced paintings that would fundamentally change the history of American postwar art. Abandoning the longstanding tradition of narrative painting, and the emotionally imbued Abstract Expressionism, Johns instead adopted a more formalist approach, garnering interest from everyday objects, and investigating the possibility of line and shape. “I’m interested in things which suggest the world rather than suggest the personality,” he once stated. “I’m interested in things which are rather than in judgments. The most conventional things, the most ordinary things—it seems to me that those things can be dealt with without having to judge them; they seem to me to exist as clear facts not involving aesthetic hierarchy” (quoted in R. Francis, Modern Master: Jasper Johns, New York, London and Paris, 1991, p. 21). In Decoy, these concerns come together in one painting.
The present work relates to a series of prints that Johns produced during the summer of 1971, and which are now regarded to be among the most lauded series of prints he ever executed, examples of which are housed in major international institutional collections including: Tate Gallery, London; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; The Broad, Los Angeles; and Art Institute of Chicago. Unusually for the artist, Johns painted the canvas as the culmination of the series, rather than the other way around. The prints were produced from a single lithographic stone, which he reworked many times, along with eighteen aluminum plates. The constant reworking and making additions and changes speak to the work being a recapitulation of his ideas about reproduction and representation. The artist has also spoken of how Decoy is about memory and transformation, as each time a motif is used and re-used it accrues new memories and meaning, and the object gets to develop its own history.
One indication of the importance of Decoy is that it was once in the collection of Victor and Sally Ganz, the pre-eminent collectors of twentieth-century art. Johns was one of the Ganz’s favorite artists and during their lifetimes they amassed what is widely regarded to be the most complete collection of the artist’s work ever assembled. Over the years, Victor Ganz and Johns developed an extraordinary rapport. Ganz savored the artist’s complex, multilayered meanings, and appreciated the craft and invention of Johns’s explorations of different artistic media and his consistently evolving technique. Decoy is a work that combines this cerebral complexity and emotional intensity, writes Roberta Bernstein—widely regarded as the foremost scholar of the artist’s work—in respect of the present work, “This major work summarizes the themes of disorientation, disintegration, discontinuity, and fragmentation that had dominated Johns’s work for the past decade… Decoy is intellectually rich and sensuously alive… yet weighted with a dark pessimism evoked by the area of black that surrounds and threatens to obliterate” (“Jasper Johns,” in M. Fitzgerald, A Life in Collecting: Victor and Sally Ganz, New York, 1997, p. 107).
One of most of the most intricate paintings of Johns’s long career, Decoy represents the artist’s multifaceted approach to art. Unrivalled within the artistic canon of the postwar period, he has done more than any other artist to interrogate the creativity of the artistic process, resulting in a body of work that is as vital and invigorating as it is broad. From paintings, to prints, to sculpture, Johns is the master of his chosen medium, excited by their formal properties and investigating and manipulating them to push at the boundaries of art. Here, in Decoy, the artist represents all three mediums; “Johns’s art is a constant reminder that the truth is not a given,” concludes Bernstein, “but rather is revealed through the layered and shifting meanings uncovered through the process of perception. Fixed habits of seeing, feeling, and thinking render the truth invisible. A flicker of grace occurs when the senses are awakened and new ways of experiencing the world, even ordinary objects in the world, provide a glimpse of that truth” (R. Bernstein and E. Devaney, "Something Resembling Truth," in R. Bernstein, ed., Jasper Johns, exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2018, p. 12).

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