Artnet Auctions Presents: This Vibrant Jasper Johns ‘Target Print’ Has a Fascinating Provenance––Learn About Its Significance to The Artist Here
Find out why you won't want to miss this collecting opportunity.
Jasper Johns has often been drawn to images that are familiar to viewers—or, as he explained in 1959, “things the mind already knows.” In the 1974 print Target, live for bidding now in our Premier Prints & Multiples sale on Artnet Auctions, Johns portrays his famed target motif, a symbol for the artist that perfectly blurs the line between abstract and recognizable imagery.
In his very first public exhibition at the Jewish Museum in 1957, Johns chose to show the work Green Target. It was a wise choice: The painting caught the attention of legendary New York dealer Leo Castelli, who would launch Johns’s career with his first solo exhibition the next year. However, Johns’s experimentation with the motif actually began two years before the Jewish Museum exhibition, in 1955, when he started creating paintings that depicted the recognizable design with a complex system of layers and textures.
The intricacy and depth of the surface of each of Johns’s target works are clear and the meticulously calculated beauty in Target, offered in our sale, is no exception. The depth of the color palette used in the work highlights Johns’s multilayered style, and when compared to the artist’s 1955 series of target paintings, the work exemplifies the sophistication of the artist’s painterly process with the nuances of the print medium. Largely seen as his most important rendition of this subject, Target presents a unique opportunity to collect a part of art history.
Jasper Johns’s Work at Auction
As shown by the graph above, there has been a steady increase in demand for Johns prints and multiples in recent years. Since 2017, nearly half of all Johns prints and multiples sold at auction have sold for more than their high estimate, and in four of the last six years, Johns prints have sold for over $1 million at auction. Our Target print’s $250,000 high estimate is consistent with the market for Johns works in this medium––and is an exceptional value for one of his most visually compelling prints.
This edition of the print also has a notable provenance. As interest in his work spread around the globe, Johns held his first exhibition in Spain in 1980 at Galeria Cadaqués, located in a port city that is rich in artistic heritage and was frequented by other artists such as Dali, Picasso and Duchamp. The Target offered in our sale was included in Johns’s landmark 1980 exhibition there, and has remained in the same private collection since.
With works in prestigious museums and important private collections, the price point of Johns’s work can often be unapproachable for all but a few collectors. Thankfully, however, Johns was ahead of the curve in embracing the more accessible medium of printmaking, and because few unique Johns works ever come to market, his editioned works have become even more desirable and attainable. He created monotypes, lithographs, etchings, and screenprints that equaled if not surpassed the genius of his paintings.
Target is one of Johns’s most exceptional prints, perfectly demonstrating the artist’s mastery of screenprinting. As one of America’s most iconic artists, this work offers a special opportunity to collect a piece of art history––click here to place your bids before Premier Prints & Multiples closes on October 8.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out directly to the specialist for this lot, Jannah Greenblatt.
Senior Specialist, Prints & Multiples
(212) 497-9700 ext. 247
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