Jasper Johns at the Phillips and Abroad

Bill Goldston talks to visitors in the galleries

Bill Goldston talks to visitors in front of Johns’s work, Untitled (2011), on July 12, 2012. Photo: Benjamin Resine

In 1960, Jasper Johns was introduced to printmaking by Tatyana Grosman, who in 1957 founded Universal Limited Art Editions, a fine art publishing house in Long Island, New York. Grosman invited artists like Johns to her workshop to learn lithography. Master printer Bill Goldston met Johns there and collaborated with him on major works such as Decoy (1971) on view in the exhibition Jasper Johns: Variations on a Theme at The Phillips Collection.

Goldston became the director of ULAE in 1982 and he continues to work with Johns and other artists. He considers Johns’s recent print Untitled (2011) a tour de force in etching: “John Lund [Johns’s master printer] told me that the whole thing is spit bite [a process in which an acid solution is painted directly on a prepared plate]. . . . You have to marvel at Jasper: there are 11 colors printed from only three plates. You print the multicolored blue plate, then the red and yellow plate, and finally the black plate. What you need is timing—you don’t want the blue plate or red plate to dry fully or else the black won’t print cleanly. . . . It is extraordinary that an artist possesses the technical foresight in etching something like this.”

Goldston, who spoke at the Phillips last night about his work with Johns, recently curated an exhibition of Johns prints at the Instituto Tomie Ohtake in Brazil.

Printing the (Phillips) Diamond Jubilee

Photos of the plate and print proposed by Scip Barnhart for the Phillips's 60th anniversary

Plate and print proposed by Scip Barnhart for the Phillips's 60th anniversary. Photos: Scip Barnhart

Long before he led Thursday’s Jasper Johns-inspired printmaking demonstration, Scip Barnhart brought his master printer credentials to the Phillips. In 1981, Scip presented Marjorie Phillips with this proposal for a 60th anniversary commemorative print–an image of Duncan Phillips posed with furrowed brow before the museum’s original entrance, as if seen through a fishbowl or convex mirror. Though the print was not accepted for the diamond anniversary, Scip held onto it over more than 30 intervening years (it hangs framed on an upstairs wall of his home) and shared it with us as we prepared for a major exhibition focused on innovation in his medium of printmaking.