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   Jasper Johns, by Michael Crichton  
  Nonfiction, first publication in May 1977 , latest edition in May 1997
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      This little book has an essay at the front by Leo Castelli, the legendary New York art dealer who in the late 1950s snapped up the young Jasper Johns for his stable of new artists--nearly all of whom became wildly successful. Most of the rest of the book is like a snapshot album, immersing the reader in pictures of Johns, his studio, his paintings, and historical artifacts. These last include the Art News magazine cover of 1958 that put Johns on the map. Speaking of maps, there are reproductions of Johns's famous U.S. maps, and also of his targets and the late double shadow, crosshatch paintings. In the back of the book, there is a brief chronology, plus captions explaining the preceding plates. It's a surprisingly good idea to place them at the end--nicely non-intrusive.

    Read Castelli's essay to get a sense of the renowned and perspicacious Leo Castelli, rather than for what it tells you about Johns. For that, there are hundreds of other sources. One startlingly thoughtful analysis of Johns's work appears in James Fenton's book Leonardo's Nephew. Castelli reveals that MoMA's Tom Hess had "a friend" buy one of Johns's early American flag paintings for the museum in order to bypass a conservative acquisitions committee. Fenton tells us it was the architect Philip Johnson, and that it then took 15 years for MoMA to wrest it from Johnson's appreciative grasp.

    Source: Peggy Moorman,

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