Jasper Johns — The Artist as Collector. From Cezanne to de Kooning
Until February 4, 2024
Jasper Johns (*1930) ranks among the major American artists of the 20th century. Widely regarded as a precursor of Pop Art, Johns began producing his iconic paintings of U.S. flags and targets in the late 1950s, which earned him international fame. Today, his works may be found around the globe. And yet it is unlikely that more than a select circle of individuals are aware of the artist’s activities as collector.
Artists’ collections are commonly the outcome of gifts or a flourishing exchange of works among colleagues. The same holds true for Johns, but applies by no means to all the works comprising his collection—he acquired a large portion thanks to his keen connoisseurial eye, whereby not all the works are from the hands of contemporaries. Ranging from the 19th century through to the present, both comprehensive bodies of works—for instance, by Paul Cezanne, Pablo Picasso, and Willem de Kooning—and expressive single sheets, such as those of Käthe Kollwitz, Marcel Duchamp, or Sol LeWitt, form part of the collection. In its entirety, the collection is a testimony to Johns’ strong affinity to all facets of the medium of drawing.
The Kunstmuseum Basel exhibition features a selection of approximately 100 drawings from Johns’ collection. As a point of departure, the central subject is the human body, to which many of these works on paper are dedicated. The show encompasses a variety of expressive drawing styles from Impressionism and Abstract Expressionism to contemporary works, and, for the first time, affords a truly representative insight into this singular collection.