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Jasper Johns at KIDO Press

The Kido Press Story Part 1: Jasper Johns

June 26 (Fri.) – August 7 (Fri.), 2015

Gallery KIDO Press (3331-204)

KIDO Press was established in 2002 by Hitoshi Kido, who served as a master printer at Universal Limited Art Editions (ULAE), one of New York’s major print studios, from 1986 to 1994. This series of exhibitions traces the evolution of KIDO Press from its origins in the New York of the 1980s, when the city was particularly charged with creative energy, to the present.

Part 1 spotlights Kido’s years in New York, when he met and produced prints at ULAE together with many legendary artists, including Robert Rauschenberg, Jim Dine, and Kiki Smith as well as Jasper Johns.

In this first part, KIDO Press is exhibiting a careful selection of precious prints made by Jasper Johns at ULAE in the 1990s.

Profile of the artist – Jasper Johns

From the late 1980s and into the 1990s, the works of Jasper Johns won high accolades worldwide. At the same time, a certain change was occurring in his artistry. In 1986, an exhibition titled “Jasper Johns: A Print Retrospective” was held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It brought together prints (about 150) and paintings that were produced from 1960 to 1985, and evoked a great response. Johns, however, was hardly resting on his laurels; in 1987, the following year, he unveiled his series The Seasons, whose direction differed completely from his signature works to that point, in a new exhibition held at the Leo Castelli Gallery, also in New York. The Seasons marked a major turning point in the art of his prints.


Jasper Johns “Untitled”, 1997, Etching and aquatint, 50.8 x 65.4 cm(paper size)
Jasper Johns “Untitled”, 1997, Etching and aquatint, 50.8 x 65.4 cm(paper size)


The prints from the 1990s displayed in “Part 1” evidence Johns’s distinctive approach of creating complicated layerings of all sorts of fragments, elements, and space from works of his own and other artists while referencing portions of famous paintings from art history. For example, Johns found deep meaning in the process of putting his hand to icons borrowed from past masterpieces such as Grünewald’s Isenheim Altarpiece and Holbein’s Portrait of a Young Nobleman Holding a Lemur in order to breed personal connotations, and letting them resonate with each other once incorporated into his own works. This is also suggested by the following comments Johns made about his art in an interview conducted in 1982.

Jasper Johns “Untitled”, 1994, Lithograph, 92.1 x 77.5 cm(paper size)
Jasper Johns “Untitled”, 1994, Lithograph, 92.1 x 77.5 cm(paper size)

“Seeing a thing can sometimes trigger the mind to make another thing. In some instances the new work may include, as a sort of subject matter, references to the thing that was seen. And, because works of painting tend to share many aspects, working itself may initiate memories of other works. Naming or painting these ghosts sometimes seems a way to stop their nagging.” – Jasper Johns, quoted in Jasper Johns (Modern Masters Series), by Richard Francis, Abbeville Press, New York, 1984.

The exhibition focuses on prints evidencing major change in Johns’s art in his later years, in which critics have pointed out connections with the works of Grünewald and Holbein. It highlights the transition from quotation from things already well-known such as flags and numbers to quotation from works already well-known.

Summary chronology

1930: Born in Augusta, Georgia, USA.

1958: Stunning debut in a landmark solo exhibition at the Leo Castelli Gallery.

1960: First production of lithographs at the invitation of Tatyana Grosman, founder of Universal Limited Art Editions (ULAE).

1970: Holding of the exhibition “Jasper Johns: Prints 1960-1970” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Publication of a catalogue containing all of the artist’s prints to that point. Holding of the exhibition “Jasper Johns: Lithographs” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

1986: Holding of the exhibition “Jasper Johns: A Print Retrospective” at the Museum of Modern Art. This exhibition subsequently toured other cities in the United States as well as Europe and Japan (until 1988).

1987: Holding of the exhibition “Jasper Johns: The Seasons” at the Leo Castelli Gallery.

1988: Receipt of the Grand Prize, the Golden Lion at the 43rd Venice Biennale (for his solo show in the United States Pavilion). Holding of a large-scale retrospective exhibition of Jasper Johns prints in Japan for the first time. (Titled “Jasper Johns Prints, 1960-1986,” this was the international edition of the “Jasper Johns: A Print Retrospective” exhibition held in 1986 at the Museum of Modern Art. Within Japan, it was held at the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art; the National Museum of Art, Osaka; and the Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art.)

1996: Holding of a retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. The exhibition subsequently traveled to the Museum Ludwig (in Cologne, Germany) and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo. It presented a comprehensive look at Johns’s long years of activity in media including paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints (-1997).

* This chronology concerns mainly activities and developments related to the prints involved in this exhibition.

Gallery KIDO Press

New address: 3331 Arts Chiyoda 204, Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101-0021. Tel & Fax: +81(0)3-5817-8988 E-mail: [email protected] Web:

Gallery hours: 12:00–19:00 Closed on Monday, Tuesday, and National Holidays

* During the run of this exhibition, the gallery will be open on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.