Jasper Johns Plans Artists' Retreat at His Connecticut Estate

  • Johns was honored with a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.

    Johns was honored with a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.

The town of Sharon, Conn., has approved a plan proposed by representatives of modern master Jasper Johns for an artists' retreat. Johns, 87, owns a 170-acre country home and studio space there that would be converted into the retreat after his death.

At a planning and zoning committee meeting on Sept. 13, the future live-work space for 18 to 24 artists at a time was unanimously approved, as first noted on Twitter by art critic and Johns biographer Deborah Solomon.

Influential for his work spanning styles from abstract expressionism to Pop art, Johns is perhaps best known for his Flags series of paintings, one of which sold privately for a reported near-$110 million in 2010. Another Flag sold for an auction record of $36 million at Sotheby's in 2014.

Minutes from the town meeting, in brief: 

"The proposal is for an Artist's Retreat following Mr. John's death....

In addition to the property itself, Mr. John's intends to provide an endowment to support the operations of the Retreat. There will be no changes to the property, which consists of 6 separate parcels some with residences others with just barns which may have or may be converted to studios....

The proposal is for house, for a limited period of time, a maximum of 18 to 24 artists at anyone time. They would live, eat and devote themselves to the private study, practice and development of their work. They would have communal meals, in the existing main house and shared common spaces that would foster a sense of community among the artists.

The Retreat would have 19 - 25 employees with 6 to 9 of these individuals working off-site (administrative staffforfinancial and selection process). None of the employees will live on the property and there will be no artist instruction being done. The Retreat would be structured as a charitable organization or nonprofit corporation."

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