Celebrated by Neo-Dadaists, Pop artists, printmakers and the art world at large for the incredible impact his revolutionary artwork had on all of them, Jasper Johns continues to be one of the most important living artists of our time. With a legacy that goes well beyond his Flag, his innovative technique and style have written some of the most significant pages of the history of arts, leaving marks in several movements throughout his ongoing sixty-year career. Praised and disputed at the same time for being so unusual and outstanding, the works of Jasper Johns marked the creative stances of the 1950s, bringing back the glory of the Dada at a time when everything was to be expressed abstractly.
The brave artistic experiments of Jasper Johns were first discovered in 1958, when the prominent art dealer Leo Castelli visited the studio of Robert Rauschenberg, Johns’ lover and immense influence. Impressed by the craft and the simplicity behind the works he saw, Castelli became his dealer and gave way to the artist’s first exhibition at his gallery, where many important people, like Robert Rosenblum, discovered his work. From that moment on, it was clear to everyone that an approach so unique would not get unnoticed. His paintings emphasized the process of creation, his sculptures resulted from spontaneity and curiosity, and his printmaking took the medium to a whole new level, contributing to its evolution in an unprecedented way.
Because the very act of making art was so essential to him, Jasper Johns has changed the way printmaking was perceived and experienced, by incorporating familiar imagery of the everyday into a re-invented craft. His lithographs, screen-prints, etchings and woodblocks were created using materials like brush, pen, pencil, wax, crayons and even plaster, exceeding the medium’s possibilities and extending its creative output. This interest and dedication are exactly what revolutionized this field of art and became the reference point for many artists to come, even today.
As one of the most valuable artists in the world, Jasper Johns and his artworks have been incredibly sought after ever since that first exhibition of his - in fact, the MoMA immediately bought three of the pieces on display for its collection. Furthermore, in 1980 the Whitney Museum of American Art paid $1 million for his 1958 Three Flags, then the highest price ever paid for the work of a living artist. But this record was surpassed by large over the years, finally culminating in 2014, at a Sotheby’s auction in New York. Was is the painting you think it was? Scroll down to find out!
Also, be sure to check out available works by Jasper Johns on our marketplace!
Editors’ Tip: Johns
In one of the most comprehensive publications released about the life and work of Jasper Johns, Johns by Barbara Hess follows the principles of any TASCHEN book and comprises a detailed chronological summary of the life and oeuvre of the legendary artists, covering his cultural and historical importance and approximately 100 illustrations with explanatory captions. Johns is widely considered one of the most important American artists of the 20th century, most notable for his Flags, sculptures, prints and other artworks that deal with other themes, including targets, numbers, letters, and maps, that are also famously recurrent. If you're a fan of this extraordinary creator, this book might just be the right one for you, at a traditionally affordable Taschen price.
At the now legendary one-man exhibition at Leo Castelli Gallery in 1958, Jasper Johns’ glorious entrance to the art world, Robert Rosenblum immediately bought the Alphabets drawing. Inspired by a chart in a book that had a grid arrangement for the alphabet, each letter is like a ready-made, obtained from sheets of printed letters available commercially for making file labels. The letters are then spread out on a vertical rectangular field of a large piece of card stock and filled with dark undertones. Both perfect and imperfect, this Jasper Johns artwork is a meticulous study of the subject, but also technique and materials, leaning on the legacy of Abstract Expressionists while adopting the concepts of Neo-Dada.
Alphabets was sold for $6,802,500 with buyer’s premium at Christie’s New York in 2012. Click here for more auction data!
White Numbers, 1959
Jasper Johns was very interested in ”shapes and the mysterious symbolism”, as described by Rosenblum, After a series of works dedicated to letters, the artist realized he could do the same thing with numbers - thus, the 1959 White Numbers as a bright representative of yet another detailed grid. It is almost sublime, with elements emerging from the surface just enough to be merely recognized. This artwork was done with oil and encaustic, an old painting technique that involves wax and that was almost completely forgotten until Jasper Johns started using it again. White Numbers is like a composition made up of many smaller artworks, each breathtakingly beautiful in its own way.
Christie’s New York sold White Numbers for $7,200,000 with buyer’s premium in 1997. For more details, click here!
Dancers On A Plane, 1981
Amongst the most personally significant masterworks of Jasper Johns,Dancers on a Plane is aseamlessly choreographed vision of line, color, and light. One of threeexquisite crosshatch paintings of the same title which the artist painted between 1979 and 1981, it is rendered in anuanced palette with a delicate interplay of prismatic light and shimmering hue. The series pays tribute toJohns’ lifelong friend, the dancer and radically innovative choreographer Merce Cunningham, and to the artist’s longstanding involvement in Cunningham’s dance troupe as an artistic advisor. At the same time, the quasi-mirrored symmetry of the crosshatched pattern references a Tibetan-Tantric painting of the Buddhist deity Samvara, Lord of the Dance.
The work was sold on May 16th, 2018 at Sotheby's New York during theirContemporary Art Evening Auction for$7,500,000. More data on the work here.
Corpse and Mirror, 1974
Let’s describe what we see: it is a grid of six rectangular blocks with a pattern made up with hatched black lines worked over in white, pink, yellow and blue. And there’s a black “x” in there too. It is a method that Jasper Johns adopted and used between 1972 and 1983. It is generally considered a graphic method of adding depth and volume to an image or conveying the illusion of light in space. According to the artist, he first saw his pattern on a passing car, inspiring him to experiment in this direction. With it, in a way, he forged a new model of painterly abstraction, one that is not strictly geometric or reductive. The Corpse and Mirror painting also inspired the creation of three prints that were loosely based on it in the following years.
Corpse and Mirror achieved $7,600,000 with buyer’s premium at Christie’s New York in 1997. For more on the work, click here!
Gray Numbers, 1957
In 1958, Dorothy C. Miller, the first curator of New York’s Museum of Modern Art acquired Gray Numbers and owned it all the way until 2009, when it was sold at an auction. This work too plays with the viewer’s ability to perceive, incorporating “signs” that provided him with a ready-made design that did not require any composition invention. Jasper Johns often called these “found designs”, creating an image so familiar that it was seen but not looked at. With this work and those on the same matter that followed, the artist wanted to create an index of an image, using an elaborate method of heating wax until it becomes liquid, adding gray pigments to it and laboriously applying it to the canvas. The wax encaustic suspends in time with different speed, weight, tempo and movement.
Gray Numbers went for $7,700,000 with buyer’s premium at Sotheby’s New York in 2009. Click here to visit the artwork’s page!
0 Through 9, 1961
In the mid-1950s, Jasper Johns started working with the shades of gray as the color that not only evokes a specific mood, but also requires an intellectual rigor on the artist’s part. Because of his dedication to it, there was an entire exhibition dedicated to his gray artworks - 120 of them in various media. In this particular example of 0 Through 9, Johns superimposed the numbers 0 through 9, so that the individual form of each numeral is overtaken by the larger whole of the image that is created. It shows the artist’s ambition to record as many variations of a predetermined pattern of an image, by making an optical stack that further abstracts the individual signs into a compositional whole.
In 2002, Christie’s New York sold 0 Through 9 for $9,909,500 with buyer’s premium. Visit the artwork’s page here!
0 Through 9, 1961
The 0 Through 9 series did not just involve oil on canvas artworks, as demonstrated in this example of charcoal and pastel on paper from the same year, 1961. But aside from a drawing, there are also three other smaller works on paper, a metal relief, a pastel and a lithograph. Jasper Johns was determined to explore all possibilities and appearances of these numbers and was interested to see how their form and composition changes with every medium, technique, color. Less monochromatic than the gray painting we mentioned earlier, it contains a scribbled black mass on the left side, giving the whole artwork a mysterious note that for a moment distracts us from the emerging contours of the numbers that surround it.
Achieving a whopping $10,928,000 with buyer’s premium, the drawing was sold at Sotheby’s New York in 2004! More on the artwork here.
Two Flags, 1973
Two years after being discharged from the US Army, Jasper Johns created his first Flag in 1954. He was 24 at the time. It is now known that the series of paintings and other works inspired by the red, blue and white came from a dream the artist had, and that same year, his artwork was all over the news. Two Flags was made in 1974, with the right example being oil on canvas and left encaustic on canvas. The two vertically positioned flags were first sold at Sotheby’s in 1989, reaching a whopping $11 million, at the height of the auction market. In 1999, the artwork went to the hands of one Larry Gagosian, who was allegedly buying on behalf of Leonard Reggio, chairman of the Dia Center for the Arts.
Two Flags reached $7,152,000 with buyer’s premium at Christie’s New York in 1999. For more data, click here!
False Start, 1959
If we’re used to Jasper Johns artwork being gray and moody, this painting will definitely take us by surprise. False Start was created in 1959 after the artist saw a racing print with that name while sitting at the popular Cedar Tavern in New York City. It is an explosion of colors, bright and frenetic, among which we can see stenciled labels such as “wrong”, “gray”, “orange”, “red”. The artwork is entirely dedicated to color in this case - there is no subject, just different components that aimed to break the artist’s habits that he saw as ”certain limitations”. ”I wanted to find a way to apply color so that the color would be determined by some other method”, said Johns at the time.
In 1988, at Sotheby’s New York, False Start went for $15,500,000 with buyer’s premium, 210% over its high estimate! Click here for more details.
Encaustic and printed paper collage on canvas, Flag from 1966 was bought directly from Jasper Johns, by Michael Crichton, the best-selling writer, in 1974. It was the hottest item of its sale in 2010 because it was a very rare opportunity for buyers to get their hands on a Jasper Johns artwork. The work’s high price was also due to the fact that Mr. Crichton was its only owner up until that pointwhen it finally went to Richard Russell, a dealer in American paintings. Flag marks a time when the artist began painting common, instantly recognizable symbols like flags, targets, numbers and letters as we’ve witnessed - things he didn’t necessarily have to design from scratch. The flag, in particular, exists as sculpt metal, bronze, lithography, drawing and print.
Flag 1966 is Jasper Johns’ second most expensive artwork at auctions, having been sold for $28,642,500 with buyer’s premium at Christie’s New York in 2010! More details here.
Finally, we reach the most expensive flags of them all - the 1983 encaustic on silk flag on canvas. It had never appeared at an auction before, as it was acquired by Jasper Johns’ former assistant directly from the artist. With a size of only 29.5 x 44.4 cm, it is surely one of the priciest works of its dimensions. As described in Sotheby’s catalogue, Flag ”reveals a hushed accumulation of gestures—every stroke meets a dead end and a fresh start.” This Jasper Johns artwork was loaned to several important art institutions and has a rich exhibition history, including the Yale University Art Gallery and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The painting is seminal, as it represents both the flag and the painting of the flag, with an alluring texture that emphasises the tension between what we see and what we know.
At Sotheby’s New York in 2014, Flag 1983 became Jasper Johns’ record-selling artwork, at $36,005,000 with buyer’s premium! Click here to find out more.
This is a list of the highest known prices paid for paintings. The current record price is approximately US$450.3 million (which includes commission), paid for Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi ( c. 1500).What is Jasper Johns most famous piece? ›
1. Flag, 1958. Jasper Johns first painted the American flag in 1954–1955 aged 24, and it's been a frequently recurring motif in his practice ever since.What is the most expensive artwork sold by a living artist? ›
The highest price for a piece of art by a living artist was for Jasper Johns's 1958 painting Flag. Its private sale was thought to be $110 million USD ($137 million in 2021 dollars).What is the most expensive painting for sale? ›
|Pablo Picasso||Les Femmes d'Alger||$179.4 million|
|Rembrandt||The Standard Bearer||$197.9 million|
|Amedeo Modigliani||Nu couché||$170.4 million|
|Andy Warhol||Sage Blue Marilyn||$195 million|
The most valuable painting in history must surely be the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. Although it is considered priceless, we can determine some numerical value by looking at the insurance value of the painting. In 1962 the masterpiece was assessed at a value of $100 million.Who bought the 110 million dollar painting? ›
Estimated at US$60 million dollars, Maezawa acquired the painting for a record-breaking US$110 million dollars. This meant that Basquiat overtook his friend, Andy Warhol's US$105-million-dollar painting, Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster, 1963), as the most valuable American artist.How much is a Jasper Johns painting worth? ›
Jasper Johns's work has been offered at auction multiple times, with realized prices ranging from 7 USD to 55,350,000 USD, depending on the size and medium of the artwork. Since 1998 the record price for this artist at auction is 55,350,000 USD for Small False Start, sold at Christie's New York in 2022.How much did Jasper Johns Flag sell for? ›
It was eventually hammered down for Sotheby's specialist Scott Nussbaum for $32 million. Including premium, the price was $36 million and set a new record for Johns, surpassing the previous high of $28.6 million.What is Jasper Johns Flag worth? ›
One of Jasper Johns's seminal “Flag” paintings, from 1960-66, which had belonged to the writer Michael Crichton, became the star in the auction house's postwar and contemporary art auction, selling for $28.6 million.Who owns the most expensive painting in the world? ›
Salvator Mundi: Saudi-owned $450m painting is not a Da Vinci, museum says. The world's most expensive painting, owned by Saudi Arabia, is not the work of Leonardo Da Vinci, according to a research project at Madrid's renowned Prado museum.
- Salvator Mundi by Leonardo da Vinci, c.1500. ...
- Interchange by Willem de Kooning, 1955. ...
- The Card Players by Paul Cézanne, 1892-93. ...
- Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?) ...
- Number 17A by Jackson Pollock, 1948.
It had been believed to have been painted between 1503 and 1506; however, Leonardo may have continued working on it as late as 1517. It was acquired by King Francis I of France and is now the property of the French Republic. It has been on permanent display at the Louvre in Paris since 1797.What paintings are worth money? ›
|Caravaggio||The Crowning with Thorns||$150 million|
|Caravaggio||The Martyrdom of Saint Ursula||$190 million|
|Pablo Picasso||Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust (Nu au Plateau de Sculpteur)||$185 million|
|Pablo Picasso||The Mirror (Le Miroir)||$140 million|
Quality is the main consideration, made up many different facets: the prestige of the work, the prestige of the artist, the rarity of the artist on the market, the value of other works sold by the same artist, and finally, the provenance, that is, the history of a work's ownership as a guide to its authenticity.Who bought 400 million painting? ›
The cave contains nearly 2,000 figures, which can be grouped into three main categories - animals, human figures and abstract signs. Most of the major images have been painted onto the walls using mineral pigments although some designs have also been incised into the stone. Of the animals, equines predominate .What is the number 2 famous painting? ›
2. The Scream – Edvard Munch. A painting that symbolises the anguish and pain of modern life. It has become one of the most famous pictures of modern times.What painting did Bill Gates buy? ›
George Bellows' "Polo Crowd" was reportedly purchased anonymously by Bill Gates at a Sotheby's auction in 1999, for $27.5 million, then an auction record for American art. The painting had been in the John Hay Whitney Collection for nearly 70 years until the death of his widow, Betsey Cushing Whitney.Who owns Cadillac Moon Basquiat? ›
'The Storm on the Sea of Galilee' by Rembrandt van Rijn
Rembrandt van Rijn's piece was stolen during a heist totalling more than $500 million, which also included Johannes Vermeer's The Concert. The artworks were snatched from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, US, in the early hours of March 18, 1990.
Appraisals & Appraisers
Consider finding an appraiser to determine the value of your artwork. Appraisers are trained specialists who work for a fee. They evaluate your piece and give you a written statement of its value.
Mark Rothko's 'Untitled (Yellow and Blue)' was purchased for $46.5 million in May, 2015.Who owns the biggest American flag? ›
It is worth about $80,000. The largest flag still resides at 402 Lime Avenue in Long Beach, California, and it still has national renown. Demski was featured in the George W. Bush inaugural parade for his monumental flag.How much does a Grade 5 flag sell for? ›
|Flag Type||Base Gold Value||Base Emissary Value|
|Broken Emissary Flag (Grade II)||3,500 - 4,900||12000|
|Broken Emissary Flag (Grade III)||5,500 - 6,500||18000|
|Broken Emissary Flag (Grade IV)||7,600 - 8,500||24000|
|Broken Emissary Flag (Grade V)||9,500 - 10,500||30000|
On May 29, 1777, Betsy Ross was paid a large sum of money from the Pennsylvania State Navy Board for making flags, and on June 14, 1777, Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as our official national flag.Why did Jasper Johns burn his paintings? ›
Jasper Johns, Flag, oil paint on canvas, 1954-1955. In 1954, when Jasper Johns was a young 24 years old, he set to destroy all of his work. He explained later in reflection on this act that he realised that he had “to stop becoming and to be an artist… I had a wish to determine what I was…What is the oldest surviving American flag? ›
The Bedford Flag is the oldest complete flag known to exist in the United States. It is celebrated as the flag carried by the Bedford Minuteman, Nathaniel Page, to the Concord Bridge on April 19, 1775, the beginning of the American Revolution, but it was already an antique on that day.How many Jasper Johns flags are there? ›
Since that time, Johns has created more than 100 flags in various media, in a variety of sizes, as a single flag or in multiples, and depicted it in black & white, greys, in oranges and greens and in the traditional red, white and blue.Who owns a Mona Lisa? ›
Where is the real Mona Lisa kept? The Mona Lisa hangs behind bulletproof glass in a gallery of the Louvre Museum in Paris, where it has been a part of the museum's collection since 1804. It was part of the royal collection before becoming the property of the French people during the Revolution (1787–99).What was the most expensive painting ever stolen? ›
The largest art theft in world history occurred in Boston on March 18, 1990 when thieves stole 13 pieces, collectively valued at $500 million, from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Among the pieces stolen was Vermeer's The Concert, which is considered to be the most valuable stolen painting in the world.
According to Guinness World Records, the most expensive object on Earth is the Itaipu hydroelectric dam. The dam was constructed from 1971 to 1984 between Brazil and Paraguay on the Paraná River. It cost about $27 billion to build. Adjusting for inflation, that would equal just over $77 billion in 2022.What is the most expensive painting in the world right now? ›
Somewhere in Saudi Arabia, hidden away by order of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, is the world's most expensive painting, Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi.What are the 10 most expensive painting in the world? ›
|1. Three Studies of Lucian Freud by Francis Bacon||2. Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II by Gustav Klimt|
|3. The Masterpiece by Roy Lichtenstein||4. Pendant Portraits of Maerten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit by Rembrandt|
- Mona Lisa ($860 Million) When it comes to being expensive, the Mona Lisa easily tops the list. ...
- Salvator Mundi ($475.4 Million) ...
- Interchange ($328 Million) ...
- The Card Players ($288 Million)
One, by Giampietrino, is in the collection of the Royal Academy of Arts, London, and the other, by Cesare da Sesto, is installed at the Church of St. Ambrogio in Ponte Capriasca, Switzerland.How much is an original Van Gogh painting worth? ›
Portrait of Dr Paul Gachet (1890): $152 Million.
|Where It Is Housed||Private collection|
|Estimated Value||$152 million|
In 1958 it was worth $59, today $100m. The 'last' Leonardo keeps on rising in value.Is there an app to value paintings? ›
Smartifiy is an app that allows users to instantly identify artworks and access information about them, by simply scanning them with a smartphone. Smartify is available for free to download on iOS and Android devices.What type of art is most valuable? ›
One cannot put a price on the art of creating sculptures. However, the most expensive sculpture was sold for a whopping US$141.3 million in May 2015.
People purchasing art during times of risks and uncertainties and profiting, such as during WWII, and today in nations with unstable economies and currencies that are subject to depreciation, the wealthy frequently invest in art as a means of diversifying their risks.
If you think about it, artworks are the most expensive objects in the world. They are more expensive than gold, cars, diamonds, and so on.How much is Mona Lisa worth? ›
Mona Lisa's Record Valuation
If you account for inflation, she's worth over $834m in today's money.
The largest art theft, and the largest theft of any private property, in world history occurred in Boston on March 18, 1990, when thieves stole 13 pieces, collectively worth $300 million, from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.Who is painted on 50 dollars? ›
The 18th U.S. president (1869-1877), Ulysses S. Grant, is featured on the obverse, while the U.S. Capitol is featured on the reverse.What was the biggest art theft ever? ›
The Most Famous Art Heist. In 81 minutes, 13 masterpieces were stolen in 1990 from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has valued the haul at $500 million.Who bought the $450 million dollar painting? ›
The Renaissance masterpiece is considered priceless: its cultural value is impossible to translate into a monetary value. The Mona Lisa is believed to be worth more than $850 million, taking into account inflation.How much is the Mona Lisa sold for? ›
If you account for inflation, she's worth over $834m in today's money.How much is the Mona Lisa worth 2022? ›
Mona Lisa ($860 Million)
While the price tag associated with it is hard to calculate, considering it is deemed priceless; the estimated cost for the Mona Lisa price is approximately $860 Million.
It had been believed to have been painted between 1503 and 1506; however, Leonardo may have continued working on it as late as 1517. It was acquired by King Francis I of France and is now the property of the French Republic. It has been on permanent display at the Louvre in Paris since 1797.
It works; the painting is purchased for a record $400 million by Mohammed bin Salman, crown prince of Saudi Arabia, and now allegedly sits on his super yacht.How much is the scream worth? ›
1895, pastel on cardboard. It was sold for nearly US$120 million at Sotheby's in 2012, and is in the private collection of Leon Black.How much is blue poles worth? ›
The painting cost $1.3 million – the most ever paid for an American painting in the world at that time. The newly established gallery's acquisition was greeted with equal parts ridicule and approval by the Australian public and became part of the Whitlam government's legacy.How much is Van Gogh's sunflowers worth? ›
How much is 'Sunflowers' worth? When Van Gogh's own copy of the original version went on auction at Christie's, as much as 40 million dollars was paid to purchase it. Taking into account inflation, this painting would have cost $100m.What is the most valuable painting in the world 2022? ›
- The Most Famous Painting In The World—And The Most Expensive Art.
- Salvator Mundi (1500) by Leonardo da Vinci.
- Interchange (1955) by Willem de Kooning.
- The Card Players (1892) by Paul Cézanne.
- Nafea Faa Ipoipo? (1892) by Paul Gauguin.
Truly priceless, the painting cannot be bought or sold according to French heritage law. As part of the Louvre collection, "Mona Lisa" belongs to the public, and by popular agreement, their hearts belong to her.What is starry night worth? ›
The Starry Night original painting by Vincent van Gogh, painted in 1889, is estimated to be worth over $100 million. However, this painting is one of van Gogh's masterpieces and it can also be argued that there cannot be a price for it – it is priceless.