(American, b. 1930)
Etching and aquatint
John L. Severance Fund 1987.79
© Jasper Johns / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY
Catalogue raisonné: Field ULAE 80
Jasper Johns (American, born 1930) Untitled, Second State, 1969 Etching, aquatint, and photogravure, edition 13/15 John L. Severance Fund 1987.79 Jasper Johns began to include measuring devices in his paintings in the late 1950s, attaching to their surface objects such as actual thermometers and rulers. In a number of them, Johns used rulers as art tools—smearing paint with them and leaving them present on the canvas. A ruler is used to measure the real world and thus provides concrete factual information about the objects in it. But by co-opting the ruler as a painting tool and using it as a foil to the abstract nature of art, Johns suggests how much the subjectivity of the eyes and mind has to do with the nature of what we see. In this print, Johns used a photograph of a ruler in actual size and then translated it into an etched image, which is presented against a dark background of tone created through aquatint. The etched lines above the ruler suggest the dragging motion of his hand against the plate.
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