Flag (from Lead Reliefs Series), 1969
Lead17 x 23 in. (43.2 x 58.4 cm.)
Raymond and Patsy Nasher Collection, Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, TX
Since the beginning of his career in the mid-1950s, Jasper Johns has been concerned with what he has called “things the mind already knows”—everyday images and objects, such as the American flag or a light bulb, so familiar that we scarcely truly see them anymore. Having established a range of such subjects, Johns has often returned to them to explore how they change when represented in different media. In this series of embossed lead reliefs, the artist revisited some of the themes of his past paintings and sculptures; Flag, for example, originates from a 1960 cast relief inspired by the tactile brushwork of his wax-based encaustic painted versions of the subject.
During Serra’s first years in New York, he remembered Johns in particular as being “very supportive.” Like Serra, Johns often worked at Gemini G.E.L., where these lead reliefs were produced. The year Johns made them, he commissioned Serra to make a splashed lead piece in his studio after seeing one in an exhibition at the Whitney Museum:
Phil Glass was helping me with the process of manipulating the lead, so Phil and I would be working and Jasper would invite John Cage and Merce Cunningham to come by and we would sit and have lunch together and talk....It was absolutely great. They were so hospitable and curious.
Art (c) Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Photographer: Tom Jenkins
Lower right: 'J. Johns '60-'69'Lower left: 'II 58/60'
Signed, numbered and dated
Foundations: Richard Serra
January 28 - April 23, 2017
In conjunction with the exhibition Richard Serra: Prints the Nasher Sculpture Center’s curators have chosen works from the Nasher Collection that provide context for better understanding Serra’s work. The sculptures span decades, from the experiments of Pablo Picasso, Constantin Brancusi, and Henri Matisse in the first years of the twentieth century to works by Serra’s near-contemporaries Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, and Richard Long.