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


signed, stenciled with the title and dated 'MOMOYAMA J. Johns 2005' (on the reverse of the inner right slat); signed again, stenciled with the title again and dated again 'MOMOYAMA J. Johns '05' (on the reverse)
oil, encaustic and string on two attached canvases with wooden slats
60 1/8 x 50 3/8 x 4 3/8 in. (152.7 x 128 x 11.1 cm.)
Executed in 2005
Acquired from the artist by the late owner, 2007.
R. Bernstein, Jasper Johns: Catalogue Raisonné of Painting and Sculpture, Volume 3, Painting, 1971-2014, New Haven and London, 2016, pp. 316-317, no. P334 (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


In part a painting, yet also in part a sculpture, Jasper Johns’s Momoyama is one of the artist’s most engaging later works. Executed in 2005, the multi-paneled wooden structure speaks to Johns’s multi-faceted approach to art, reveling in the bravado and inventiveness that enabled him to investigate all aspects of the creative process. Inspired by the pattern of the flagstones on a New York sidewalk, Momoyama explores the interplay of color, form, and material in three dimensions. Returning to a motif which the artist first used in his 1967 painting Harlem Light, and used on a number of occasions throughout his long career including his monumental Untitled (1972; Museum Ludwig, Cologne), the present work is one of only three works of this type that he executed in 2005 (the other two examples are in, or promised to, major institutional collections). Incorporating elements of oil painting, encaustic, wooden construction, and found materials (in this particular case, string), Momoyama provides ample evidence of the peripatetic nature the artist’s mind as he probes the nature of representation and reproduction.
Across two conjoined canvas, Johns lays out a field of multicolored corpuscular forms. Painted in the secondary colors of orange, green, and magenta, their irregular forms seem to pulsate when set against the pale ground: graphite marks and active drips of white paint add to the active surface. The left canvas is rendered in encaustic, while the right canvas is painted in oil, this combination offering up subtle variations in the richness of the painted surface. On the left, the multicolored forms traverse over the edge of the canvas, and onto a narrow wooden slat which can turn inwards, much like a hinged panel on a Renaissance altarpiece. Conversely, on the right hand side, the colored forms stop short of the turning edge, leaving the two wooden slats painted white, the outermost one bearing a free-hanging piece of string suspended from a screw eye.
Throughout his career, Johns produced a series of paintings that would fundamentally change the history of American painting. Abandoning the longstanding tradition of narrative painting, and the emotionally imbued Abstract Expressionism, Johns instead adopted a more formalist approach, garnering interest from seemingly ordinary objects and motifs, and the possibility of line and shape. Building on his works that incorporated maps, numbers, targets, and coffee and beer cans, as his career developed, so did the sophistication of his motifs.
The title Momoyama refers to a period in Japanese history dating from the latter half of the sixteenth century. Although not a work directly about Japan, the title does speak to the artist’s long history with the country. He was stationed north of Tokyo in 1952-1953, and returned to the country in 1964, by which time he was an influential figure in the Japanese art world. His time in Tokyo was highly influential to his subsequent career, as it was here that he began to refine his ideas about “seeing” and “looking” and the relationship between spectator and critic. Johns now began to use “objects and traces of action in order to diversify the ways of seeing things… and [and] to confuse the meaning of the act of looking” (The artist quoted in H. Ikegami, “Looking Deeper: Johns Johns in an International Context of the 1960s” in R. Bernstein, ed., Jasper Johns, exh. cat. Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2017, p. 54).
The present work is just one of three canvases of this type that the artist completed in 2005. Beckett (named after the Irish author Samuel Beckett) is rendered in the artist’s signature gray and is a promised gift to The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and Within—another gray version with underlying colored crosshatching—is in the Glenstone collection in Potomac, Maryland. Nines, a later version in primary colors from 2006, is a promised gift of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Following these examples, the artist evolved the composition slightly, reducing the number of slates on the side, and moving the string element to the center of the work.
Executed in 2005, Momoyama provides ample evidence of the engaging and provocative nature of Jasper Johns practice. Half a century after the seismic shift that was caused by his groundbreaking Flag (1954-1955; The Museum of Modern Art, New York), the artist was still producing works that exhort the viewer to stop seeing and start looking. With its striking motif, and unique construction, the present work forces us to do just that—question. “Johns’s art is a constant reminder that the truth is not a given,” conclude curators Roberta Bernstein and Edith Devaney, “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” ("Something Resembling Truth," in R. Bernstein, op. cit., p. 12).

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