Di Donna Galleries’ booth at Art Basel 2018 will include works by Arp, Calder, Ernst, Francis, Giacometti, Magritte, Miró, and Nuvolo but feature Disappearance I, by Jasper Johns from 1960.Disappearance I was first shown publicly in Johns’s highly anticipated and critically-lauded ten-year retrospective at the Jewish Museum in 1964 and was recently included in the 2018 retrospective of Jasper Johns’ work shown at the Royal Academy and Broad Museum and is offered at $18.5 million.
Di Donna clearly believe the inclusion the recent retrospective validates the work which has had trouble selling publicly in the past. The work was owned by Alfred Taubman who picked it up after a Sotheby’s auction. The work was not sold during the Taubman sale in 2015.
The gallery’s press release is below:
Disappearance I, which represents the first major stylistic shift in the artist’s career, was first shown publicly in Johns’s critically-lauded ten-year retrospective at the Jewish Museum in 1964.
Jasper Johns created Disappearance I, a technically and conceptually ambitious abstract painting, following his earliest series of Flag, Target, and Number paintings. Disappearance I heralds the first major stylistic shift in Johns’ career. The work is constructed from of a 40-by-40-inch stretched canvas onto which Johns affixed a second sheet of canvas folded into quarters. Both canvases are overpainted with a veil of sumptuous brushwork in shades of gray, with occasional glimpses of plum or bright red. Johns’s rejection of a subject external to art-making, and his use of canvas as both a support and a collage element, distinguish Disappearance I from his earlier work.Johns painted Disappearance I following a surge of critical success in the late 50s, including MoMA’s acquisition of three works from his first one-person exhibition at Leo Castelli Gallery in 1958. In 1959-60, Johns was included in MoMA’s landmark exhibition Sixteen Americans, which established a new generation of artists who came of age during the ascent of abstract expressionism, and who responded to it with a critical eye, either exploiting or rejecting certain romantic characteristics of that movement having to do with masculinity, individuality, and the value imposed on raw and expressive brushstrokes.In early works such as Disappearance I, Johns frequently employed encaustic—a medium derived from laying down pigment in melted wax. Despite the energetic surface of Disappearance I, encaustic is a slow medium: the wax is thick and dries quickly, rendering it un-malleable. In adopting the visual vocabulary of abstract expressionism using the medium of encaustic, Johns participated in the historicization of his predecessors, effectively mummifying the abstract expressionist brushstroke in a way that transforms it into a symbol of an entire school of painting.