By Jacqueline Trescott
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
The National Gallery of Art is planning to become a destination for the study of iconic painter Jasper Johns.
The gallery is set to announce today that it will be adding 1,700 proofs of Johns's lithographs, etchings, relief prints and screen prints to its collection by the end of 2008. The works' estimated value is in the millions of dollars and, if the fundraising is successful, the gallery will have the largest repository of Johns's work in the country, the gallery said.
Eight of the works will be included in "States and Variations: The Prints by Jasper Johns," which opens Sunday at the gallery. The gallery is currently exhibiting an 80-work look at one decade of Johns's output. "Jasper Johns: An Allegory of Painting, 1955-1965" has attracted more than 37,000 visitors since it opened Jan. 28.
Johns, a painter and printmaker, is one of the most influential artists of the post-World War II generation. The collection includes working sketches of the images that became his hallmarks: targets, maps, flags and abstractions.
"Printmaking is uniquely suited to tracking the evolution of an image's development through successive proofs," said Earl A. Powell III, the director of the gallery. In a statement before today's official announcement, Powell said: "Jasper's proofs take this process to new heights. While some are of primary interest in the context of the final image, others are beautiful as individual works of art."
The National Gallery also has extensive collections of work by several other 20th-century masters, including Richard Diebenkorn, Robert Frank, Mark Rothko, Alfred Stieglitz and John Marin.