Johns/Prince/Picasso Group Chat

Jasper Johns, After Picasso, 1998, collection of the artist, currently on view at Skarstedt

I’m still kind of marveling at them being in the same show, but if Richard Prince and Jasper Johns are going to cross paths, it makes sense that it’s at the corner of Picasso reproductions and painting.

a spread from the exhibition catalogue for Prince/Pablo Picasso, where Richard Prince collaged his own early drawings over pictures of Picasso paintings

In 1998, Johns decided to paint himself a copy of a Picasso reclining nude that had been printed upside-down in an ARTnews article. And in 2011-12, Prince overpainted, drew, collaged, and inkjetted his way through a Picasso exhibition catalogue to the point where he had a two-artist show at the Picasso Museum in Malaga, Spain.

At the moment he made his Picasso works, Prince was being sued over images he’d used in his Canal Zone series. Yet for each series, and the deKooning Paintings he’d made beforehand, Prince used a very similar book/painting/collage/inkjet process.

Richard Prince, Picasso works, painting, drawing, and collage on lithograph, as installed at Skarstedt

In the show, “In Dialogue with Picasso,” at Skarstedt, Joachim Pissaro included ten of Prince’s book-sized painting collages. Which are interesting enough on their own, but it is unexpected to find them alongside Jasper Johns, even if both artists are, as Pissaro points out, interested in both appropriation and painting. [And in appropriating Picasso’s paintings.]

Untitled, 2017, 50x60cm, acrylic over etching with collage on canvas, via Matthew Marks

What I really did not expect while considering these two artists together, was that they both also work with collage, and with combining multiple mediums into one. Now that you mention it, Johns has been painting trompe l’oeil collages for decades, but the untitled 2017 work above was just one of many to come that incorporated an actual print, photo, or paper element.

Jéan-Marc Togodgue posing with Jasper Johns’ Slice (2020) while visiting the (older) artist’s studio, as photographed by the retired basketball coach at the (younger) artist’s local boarding school, Jeff Ruskin

For his show of new works at Matthew Marks in 2021, Johns’s collaging and appropriating even got him called out for using another artist’s work without permission. Though the artist was a high school student, and the work was a copy of a wikipedia diagram of a knee he’d made for his ortho, and the ones doing the calling out were the slightly weird handlers who’d recruited the kid from Africa to play basketball at their rural Connecticut boarding school. We’ll all be Patrick Cariou for fifteen minutes.