Catalogue entry

P07378 SCENT 1975–6

Inscribed ‘J Johns 75–65’ bottom right and ‘HC 1/6’
Lithograph, linocut and woodcut, printed and published by Universal Limited Art Editions, New York in an edition of 42, 25 1/4×43 (64.2×109.2)
Purchased from Petersburg Press (Grant-in-Aid) 1980
Lit: op.cit., no.208

The image consists of three panels, each executed in a different manner; lithographically with tusche strokes on the left, lino-cut in the centre and wood-cut (with fine woodgrain) on the right. The infrastructure of ‘Scent’ has been discussed with a view to fathoming Johns' intentions in ‘hiding’ a serial articulation of the surface (op.cit., pp.48–9 and footnotes). Although the image is clearly divided into three panels, the configurations of marks repeat themselves in a sequence as follows: the marks to the right of the far left side, to the left of the two central vertical panel edges, and the marks at the far right side of the image are repeated in the same sequence to the left of a second notional set of vertical lines located to the right of the first set. The marks on the far edges of the image are congruent. Thus the sequence would be maintained if the print were rolled into a cylinder. Furthermore it would be possible to overlap a number of examples of ‘Scent’, repeating the sequence.

The print follows the painting ‘Scent’ 1974, in which the ‘hatching’ image was first used alone: it first appeared as the left hand panel of the four-part painting ‘Untitled’ 1972. Roberta Bernstein records that the image came from Johns' recollection of a pattern painted on a car: ...‘it could look either very sophisticated, like a Matisse, or very simple, like street art, and that while it was probably closer to the latter, he wanted it to be neither’ (‘Johns & Becket: Foirades/Fizzles’ Print Collectors' Newsletter, VII no.5, November–December 1976).

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