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The Leo Castelli Gallery in New York City is currently presenting the exhibition “Jasper Johns and Roy Lichtenstein -- Walls.” The show includes paintings, drawings, and collages dating from the early 1970s to the 1990s, some of which have never been exhibited before.

All of the works on view feature walls as the main subject matter. The exhibition illustrates how Jasper Johns and Roy Lichtenstein both explored space and the notion of reality versus illusion in their work. Pieces such as Johns’ “Untitled,” which features a well-known Picasso image hanging on a wooden wall, and Lichtenstein’s “Trompe L’oeil with Léger Head and Paintbrush,” which includes an image from Fernand Léger, show how both artists also played with appropriation and referentiality in their wall works.

The Castelli Gallery was founded by the pioneering art dealer Leo Castelli in 1957. The gallery quickly became the international epicenter for Pop, Minimal, and Conceptual art and exhibited works by Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, Frank Stella, Andy Warhol, Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Lichtenstein, and Johns. Castelli passed away in 1999 and the gallery is now directed by his wife, Barbara Bertozzi Castelli. The Castelli Gallery maintains a commitment to exhibiting the best of postwar American art.

“Jasper Johns and Roy Lichtenstein -- Walls” will be on view at the Leo Castelli Gallery through June 27. 

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The American contemporary artist, Jasper Johns, testified in a Manhattan federal court on Thursday, January 23, saying that he never authorized foundry owner, Brian Ramnarine, to make a bronze copy of his Sculptmetal painting, ‘Flag.’ Johns had given Ramnarine a mold of the work in 1990 with instructions to make a single wax cast mold.

Prosecutors are trying to prove that Ramnarine, owner of the Empire Bronze Art Foundry in Long Island City, Queens, attempted to sell an unauthorized bronze sculpture of the painting in 2010. Johns stated in court that Ramnarine had never returned the original mold to him and that somebody later showed him a flag sculpture that he had never seen before, but he believed had been made from the mold in Ramnarine’s possession.

Ramnarine attempted to seek a buyer for the alleged Johns sculpture, telling interested parties that he was willing to sell the work for $11 million. Potential buyers were suspicious of Ramnarine as Johns had made only six ‘Flag’ sculptures and had kept several in his own possession (another is owned by the Art Institute of Chicago and another was given to President John F. Kennedy by the art dealer Leo Castelli). In an attempt to quell wariness, Ramnarine would provide interested parties with a letter said to be from Johns as well as a certificate of authenticity. Johns said he had nothing to do with either document.

Ramnarine has pleaded not guilty to the charges levelled against him.        

Published in News
Wednesday, 17 October 2012 21:31

A Long Lost Lichtenstein Returns Home

In 1961, art dealer Leo Castelli bought a painting by Roy Lichtenstein for $750. One of the founding fathers of Pop Art, this particular piece was one of Lichtenstein’s first. In 1970, when Castelli sent the painting to be cleaned by art restorer, Daniel Goldreyer, he didn’t know it would be the last anyone would see of the work for a long time.

Goldreyer soon contacted Castelli to tell him that Electric Chord had gone missing from his office. Efforts to locate the painting went on for decades. The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation even put an image of the work on its holiday greeting card in 2006 to remind people of the ongoing search. This past July, Electric Chord turned up in a storage facility in New York. Goldreyer’s widow had found the painting in a locker belonging to a former employee after her husband’s death in 2009. Ms. Goldreyer tried to sell the painting to Quinta Galeria in Colombia using an assumed name. She claimed she was selling it on behalf of a friend. The gallery decided to send the work back to New York.

Leo Castelli’s widow, Barbara, picked up Electric Chord on Tuesday, October 16th. Valued at $4 million, she plans to hang the painting in her home.

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