Project Profile: Jasper Johns Catalogue Raisonné of Drawings

Jasper Johns. Two Flags, 1969. Graphite pencil and collage on paper. 22 1/4 x 30 3/4 in. The Menil Collection, Houston. © Jasper Johns / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Photograph: Jamie M. Stukenberg / Professional Graphics Inc., Rockford, Illinois.

 

Artist:  Jasper Johns (b. 1930)
Planned Title:  The Catalogue Raisonné of the Drawings of Jasper Johns
Years Covered:  1954-2014
Print or Digital:  Print
Publisher: To be announced
Database:  FileMaker
Schedule:  2011–2016; Expected publication date Fall 2016
Supported by:  The Menil Collection, Houston, in cooperation with the artist
Key Staff: Allegra Pesenti (Chief Curator of the Menil Drawing Institute), Bernice Rose (Advisor), Eileen Costello (Editor and Project Director); Kate Ganz (Senior Editor); Caroline Gabrielli (Senior Project Associate); Christian Wurst (Exhibitions Researcher); Kim Costello (Literature Researcher)

CRSA:  What are some of the Johns Drawings Catalogue Raisonné’s primary resources?
JJDCR:  At the start of our project, the artist’s studio provided us with Mr. Johns’s complete drawings inventory, which we migrated into our specially designed database. This laid the foundation for our research in addition to the numerous comprehensive retrospective exhibitions of Mr. Johns’s work that have taken place over the past several decades. We were also very fortunate to have access to invaluable primary resources located in the archives of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles; The National Gallery, D.C; The Art Institute of Chicago; The Menil Foundation, and a number of commercial galleries. The Archives of American Art continues to be a rich resource, especially The Leo Castelli Gallery records, which became available the year we commenced our research. Our project has also benefited from the artist’s cooperation and his studio’s assistance, especially in regard to photography. Further, as a Menil Foundation project, we benefit from their reputation for publishing scholarly exhibition catalogues as well as the highly regarded René Magritte and Max Ernst catalogues raisonné.

CRSA:  This project is one of two separate catalogues raisonnés currently being prepared on the artist.  Is there any project overlap or opportunities to collaborate?
JJDCR:
 Roberta Bernstein, under the aegis of the Wildenstein Institute, had begun work on a catalogue raisonné of the artist’s paintings and sculptures several years previous to our project. Although dealing with entirely different mediums, in a number of instances, the two projects often shared secondary (literature and exhibition) research, which proved mutually beneficial.

CRSA:  How do you hope this publication might affect the public’s understanding of Jasper Johns?
JJDCR:  The Drawings Catalogue Raisonné will present each drawing as factually and visually accurate as possible.  As the definitive publication of Mr. Johns’s drawings oeuvre, our hope is to make that aspect of the artist’s work more accessible—visually and intellectually—to a broader audience.

CRSA: What specific challenges do you face in researching Johns?
JJDCR:  The extensive amount of primary resources available to us concerning the artist and his work has expedited our research. The artist’s renown has also facilitated our project. We’ve dealt with the anticipated challenges in compiling a catalogue raisonné such as artworks with complicated provenances or exhibitions that were a little more difficult to verify because of a lack of records. However, our dedicated and persistent research staff has been able to track down many of these “unavailable” records as well as a number of “lost” drawings, which we weren’t entirely sure would ever be found.

CRSA: Are there plans for additional content beyond artwork/exhibitions/bibliography, such as essays or appendices?
JJDCR: There is discussion of including a drawing-centric chronology. However, as of this date, it is still too early to decide on additional content.

CRSA: Does this project update or expand upon a previously published catalogue raisonné of the artist’s work?
JJDCR: This will be the first catalogue raisonné of the artist’s drawings.

CRSA: Are there plans for supplements or a digital adaptation?
JJDCR: For now we are planning a printed publication only. However, we are considering adapting a digital version, but no decisions have been made about this yet.

For more information, please refer to the website jasperjohnsdrawings.menil.org or contact Caroline Gabrielli at cgabrielli@menil.org.

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