JASPER JOHNS (B. 1930)
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more Visionary: The Paul G. Allen Collection
JASPER JOHNS (B. 1930)

Map

Details
JASPER JOHNS (B. 1930)
Map
encaustic on printed paper mounted on Masonite
8 1/2 x 11 in. (21.6 x 27.9 cm.)
Executed in 1960
Provenance
Robert Rauschenberg, New York (gift from the artist, 1960).
Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, New York (acquired from the above, 1999).
Acquired from the above by the late owner, 2013.
Literature
M. Kozloff, Jasper Johns, New York, 1969 (illustrated, pl. 59).
L. Alloway, “Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg” in Art Since Mid-Century: The New Internationalism, Greenwich, 1971, vol. 2, pp. 201-216.
Jasper Johns, exh. cat., Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1977 (illustrated, p. 45).
4 Artists and the Map: Image/Process/Data/Place; Jasper Johns, Nancy Graves, Roger Welch, Richard Long, exh. cat., Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, Lawrence, 1981, pp. 5-18 (illustrated, p. 8).
R. Bernstein, Jasper Johns' Paintings and Sculptures, 1954-1974: "The Changing Focus of the Eye," Ann Arbor, 1965, p. 27.
J. Yau, A Thing Among Things: The Art of Jasper Johns, New York, 2008, p. 53 (illustrated in color, p. 52, fig. IV).
D. Wood, J. Fels and J. Krygier, Rethinking the Power of Maps, New York, 2010, p. 201.
R. Bernstein, Jasper Johns: Catalogue Raisonné of Painting and Sculpture, 1965-1970, New York and New Haven, 2017, vol. 2, p. 170 (illustrated in color, p. 171, no. P85).
R. Bernstein, Jasper Johns: Catalogue Raisonné of Painting and Sculpture, 1954-1970, New York and New Haven, 2017, vol. 5 (illustrated in color, p. 122, no. P85).
Jasper Johns: "Something Resembling Truth," exh. cat., London, 2017, p. 244.
Exhibited
New York, Jewish Museum, Jasper Johns, February-April 1964, p. 28, no. 50.
Pasadena Art Museum, Jasper Johns, January-February 1965, no. 45.
New York, Gagosian Gallery, Jasper Johns: The Maps, February-March 1989, p. 10 (illustrated in color, p. 11).
London, Royal Academy of Arts; Cologne, Museum Ludwig; Madrid, Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Pop Art, September 1991-January 1993, no. 122 (London: illustrated in color, p. 312, pl. 13; Cologne: illustrated in color, pl. 17; Madrid: illustrated in color, p. 64).
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, Pop Art, October 1992-January 1993, no. 76 (illustrated in color, p. 70, fig. 12).
Art Institute of Chicago and New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Jasper Johns: Gray, November 2007-May 2008, p. 320 (illustrated in color, pl. 38).
Institut Valencià d'Art Modern, Jasper Johns: Las huellas de la memoria, February-April 2011, p. 257 (illustrated in color, p. 79).
New York, Gagosian Gallery, The Private Collection of Robert Rauschenberg, November-December 2011, p. 368 (illustrated in color, p. 183; illustrated in color in situ, pp. 345, 347 and 363).
Paris, Gagosian Gallery, Micro Mania, April-May 2012.
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror, September 2021-February 2022, p. 69, no. 20 (illustrated in color).
Special notice

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.

Brought to you by

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

Lot Essay

Included in Jasper Johns’s catalogue raisonné as the first of his iconic Maps, this intimately-scaled jewel-like painting chronicles the artist’s pivotal contribution to the momentous shift that took place in the trajectory of twentieth-century art history. Building on his Targets, Flags, and Numbers, with his Maps, Johns continued his separation of the sign from the signified—in the present example dissolving the familiar patchwork of American states in a flurry of gestural brushstrokes. Map is one of just eight paintings Johns completed in the 1960s utilizing this subject matter. The other examples are held in major private and institutional collections including The Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Given by the artist to his close friend Robert Rauschenberg, and in whose collection it remained until his death, Map is a both a personal and pivotal summation of the practice of one the most important artists of the post-war period.
Map marks the beginning of what is widely regarded to be one of Johns’s most important and influential groups of paintings. Comprising a printed paper map given to him by Rauschenberg, Johns then overpainted the state boundaries and names in a series of energic brushstrokes in shades of gray. Disrupting the familiar rigidity of the geographical borders in this way prompts questions about how these borders are demarcated: what historical, political, social, economic and geographical factors go into creating the recognizable silhouettes of states we know today? In addition, as in many cases there are often no physical reminders of these boundaries on the landscape itself, how permanent are they anyway? Johns challenges what we know—or what we think we know—opening up a whole litany of deeply conceptual questions.
The artist’s adoption of a gray palette in Map is also interesting, something he did to avoid what he called “the color situation,” saying it “suggested a kind of literal quality that was unmoved or immovable by coloration and thus avoided all the emotional and dramatic quality of color" (quoted in R. Francis, Jasper Johns, New York, 1984, p. 37). Coming of age as part of the generation of Abstract Expressionists who regarded color as paramount—think Mark Rothko’s floating fields of intense reds, or Barnett Newman’s vistas of pure primary colors—Johns’s use of monochrome would have been as conceptually arresting as it was visually striking. This was clearly an idea that he was working through with his Map paintings as he alternated between monochrome and polychrome throughout the series. Beginning with gray in the present work, he made a dramatic switch to color with Map from 1961 (The Museum of Modern Art, New York) before turning to a variegated gray and muted color version in 1961-1962. Later Johns returned to predominantly black-and-white with his 1962-1963 version (now in the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles). After this, all of the subsequent Maps were painted in monochrome tones ranging from soft whites to dark grays.
Johns's concerted consideration of his Maps, along with his Flags, during the 1960s has led scholars and critics to discuss the symbolism in his repeated use of these motifs. “When the flags are seen in conjunction with Johns’s recurrent, simultaneous depictions of maps of the United States,” writes Scott Rothkopf, curator of the artist’s recent retrospective organized jointly by the Whitney Museum of Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, “they inevitably serve as wellsprings for meditations on the nation and its history, present and even future” (“First Motifs,” in C. Basualdo and S. Rothkopf, eds., Mind/Mirror, Philadelphia Museum of Art and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 2021, p. 58). Yet Johns himself has repeatedly said that none of these motifs were chosen with any political connotation in mind, merely that they are a “thing the mind already knows,” connecting his work to a lived experience, while at the same time allowing him to focus his attention on mark-making, color, and medium (ibid., p. 57).
During his entire career, Johns has been steadfastly interested in issues of representation. By exploring different media and taking his motivation from objects and forms he encountered every day, he became the bridge between the two great movements of twentieth-century American art, that of abstraction and Pop. Yet unlike Rothko and Pollock, or Warhol and Lichtenstein, Johns focused his attention not on the emotional pull of his work, focusing instead on an interrogation of the iconography of his chosen subject. He saw that these cultural motifs—maps, numbers, the alphabet etc.—were so ingrained in our consciousness that their formal beauty had often been overlooked. Thus, perception became Johns’s area of concern—how the viewer consumed and interpreted these forms—and in doing so he rejected the traditionally dogmatic approach of figuration and abstraction. However, rather than abandon them completely, he merged the two, investing the viewer with an active and more vital role in the process. Johns’s Maps, including the present example, formed a pivotal part of his oeuvre, and by closely examining the underlying structure of the very world that supported his practice, Johns gave rise to new inquiries into the nature of art, and at the same time produced some of the most perceptive and celebrated works of our time.
;

More from Visionary: The Paul G. Allen Collection Part I

View All
View All