Catalogue entry

P07380 DECOY 1971

Inscribed ‘J Johns 71’ bottom right and ‘55/ 55’
Lithograph, printed and published by Universal Limited Art Editions, New York, 41 1/2×29 (105.5×75.2)
Purchased from Universal Limited Art Editions (Grant-in-Aid) 1980
Lit: op.cit., no.134 and pp.39–47 Jasper Johns Decoy: the Print and the Painting (exh. catalogue), The Emily Lowe Gallery, Hofstra University, Long Island, 1972

'Decoy’ represents the first use by an artist of the hand-fed offset lithography press (originally bought by ULAE for proofing only). Johns took advantage of the press which enabled a faster pace of alternate trials, alterations and colour sequence changes, and also a larger number of subtle overprintings on one print. ‘Decoy’ contains reworkings of a number of images: a Ballantine ale can from ‘Painted Bronze’ 1960; the letters of the names of colours and the leg cast from ‘Passage II’ 1966 (oil on canvas), the lithographs ‘Passage I’ and ‘II’ (op.cit., nos.57, 58), and the six images of ‘First Etchings (2nd State)’ 1967–9 (op.cit., nos.78–90). The leg cast and some aspects of the painterly washes and colour names also relate to the painting ‘Watchman’ 1964 and the lithograph of the same title, 1967 (op.cit., no.60).

'Decoy’ has been much discussed as Johns' most complex print, and one of his most enigmatic. It is unique in that he made a painting of the same title after the print: also, he returned to the subject to make another lithograph, ‘Decoy II’ in 1971–3 (op.cit., no.169), using the same one stone and eighteen plates as for ‘Decoy’, reworking them and adding a further seven plates.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1980-82: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1984