Beer In Art #79: Jasper Johns’ Field Painting

I found today’s work of art wandering around the National Gallery of Art in D.C. this afternoon, taking a day to recover from SAVOR before heading to Philly Beer Week. The second artwork that I featured in this series was by the same artist, Jasper Johns, a sculpture of two Ballantine Ale cans bronzed over, called Painted Bronze. This work, entitled Field Painting, was completed about four years after Painted Bronze, in 1964.


It may be difficult to see, but the work includes many elements Johns used in his art, including a can of Ballantine Ale. You can see it more clearly in the detail below.


Here’s what the National Gallery has to say about Field Painting.

Field Painting, for example, pivots references both to art-making and Johns’ own career. The primary colors red, yellow, and blue are spelled out in letters hinged perpendicularly to the canvas, where they also appear in stencil-like doubles. Attached to them are various studio tools. The Savarin coffee tin and Ballantine beer can both allude to Johns’ studio paraphernalia and to his appropriation of them as motifs in his work. Passages of smeared and dripped paint, a footprint, light switch, and a neon “R” collude with other visual codes to multiply the possibility of associations.

Actually, the best way to see this painting is from an angle, on the side, where its three dimensions are more obvious.


To learn more about Jasper Johns, Wikipedia has a good overview of Jasper johns, as does Also, the overview at Area of Design includes a few of his representative works throughout his career.

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