JASPER JOHNS (b. 1930)

JASPER JOHNS (b. 1930)

Device Circle

signed, titled and dated DEVICE (CIRCLE) J. Johns '59 on the reverse--encaustic, oil, newspaper collage, wooden arm and metal screw on canvas
40 x 40in. (101.7 x 101.7cm.)
Leo Castelli Gallery, New York (Acquired in 1959)
D. Judd, Arts, "Jasper Johns", March 1960, p. 57
L. Steinberg, Metro 4-5, "Jasper Johns", May 1962, p. 102 (illustrated)
M. Seuphor, Abstract Painting: Fifty Years of Accomplishment, from Kandinsky to the Present, New York 1962, p. 187, no. 280 (illustrated)
L. Steinberg, Jasper Johns, New York 1963, p. 29, no. 18 (illustrated)
M. Kozloff, Art International 8, "Johns and Duchamp", March 1964, p. 44 (illustrated)
J. Rublowsky, Pop Art, New York 1965, p. 203 (illustrated)
M. Kozloff, Jasper Johns, New York 1967, nos. 63-64 (illustrated)
M. Kozloff, Artforum 6, "Jasper Johns: The 'Colors', the 'Maps', the 'Devices'", Nov. 1967, pp. 30-31 (illustrated)
M. Kozloff, Jasper Johns, New York 1974, no. 18 (illustrated)
R.M. Bernstein, Jasper Johns' Paintings and Sculptures 1954-1974: "The Changing Focus of the Eye", New York 1975, pp. 45-47, no. 21 (illustrated)
An Artist's Notebook: Techniques & Materials, p. 133, no. 127
R. Francis, Jasper Johns, New York 1984, pp. 44 and 47, no. 49 (illustrated)
M. Rosenthal, Jasper Johns: Work Since 1974, Philadelphia 1988, p. 94, fig. 38 (illustrated)
G. Bourdaille, Jasper Johns, New York 1989, p.15
New York, Leo Castelli Gallery, Jasper Johns, Feb.-Mar. 1960
Hartford, Wadsworth Atheneum, American Painting and Sculpture from Connecticut Collections, 1962,
New York, Jewish Museum, Jasper Johns, Jun.-Oct. 1964, no. 39 (illustrated)
London, Whitechapel Gallery, Jasper Johns: paintings, drawings and sculpture 1954-1964, Dec. 1964, p. 28, no. 21 (illustrated)
Hartford, Wadsworth Atheneum, (on loan to the permanent collection), Summer 1963,
Venice, La Biennale di Venezia, XXXII Esposizione Biennale Internazionale d'arte, June-Oct. 1964, no. 54
The Pasadena Art Museum, Jasper Johns, Jan.-Feb.1965, no. 34
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Painting and Sculpture 1940-1970, Oct. 1969-Feb. 1970, p. 186 (illustrated)
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art; Cologne, Museum Ludwig; Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne; Tokyo, The Seibu Museum of Art, and San Francisco, Museum of Modern Art, Jasper Johns, Oct. 1977-Dec. 1978, no. 46 (illustrated)
New York, The Pace Gallery, Major Work of the 60's, Mar.-April 1980 Hartford, Wadsworth Atheneum, The Tremaine Collection: 20th Century Masters--The Spirit of Modernism, Feb.-April 1984, p. 88 (illustrated)
New York, Larry Gagosian Gallery, Pop Art from the Tremaine Collection, Oct.-Nov. 1985
Hartford, Wadsworth Atheneum, Delaunay to de Kooning, Modern Masters from the Tremaine Collection and the Wadsworth Atheneum,, May-Sept. 1991

Lot Essay

According to the artist, Device Circle, painted in 1959, is his earliest work which examines the process of making a painting (Bernstein, p. 45). It is also the first work from a series of paintings which explore the possibilities of painting with the primary colors red, yellow and blue. (Bernstein pp. 142-143) Other well-known works from the series are False Start, Out the Window and Thermometer. The aesthetic qualities of this group are apparent in Device Circle's bold use of color, sculpted encaustic surface, fragmented newsprint collage, abbreviated brushstrokes and spontaneous drips. These attributes recall both a Cubist sensibility and the work of one of John's greatest influences, Paul Cézanne.

The circle has been an icon in Jasper Johns' oeuvre from the earliest target paintings through his most recent series of masterpieces The Seasons (1985-1986). From the period of 1959-1963, Johns repeated the image of Device Circle in a number of important works: Painting with Ruler and Gray (1960), Good Time Charley (1961), Device (1961-1962), Diver (1962) and Periscope (Hart Crane) (1963). Johns "first used an arm painted within a circle in 1963 to refer to the suicidal death of Hart Crane, and a very similar composition with a kind of clock hand is found in Device Circle." (Rosenthal, p. 94) The image of Device Circle relates to the clock as a symbol of change through time.

The words "DEVICE CIRCLE," painted at the lower edge of the canvas, are camouflaged in a brilliant field of color which becomes part of the composition. The painted wooden stick in the center of the canvas can be rotated to function as a compass retracing the subtle circle that divides the square. Device Circle is a painting of a device that can make a circle, while simultaneously functioning as an object that can recreate the process of making a circle. Like Johns' flags and targets, Device Circle creates a balance between the concepts of image and reality.

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