OCTOBER 25, 2022 — NEW YORK, NY — Roberta Bernstein, author of the five-volume Jasper Johns: Catalogue Raisonné of Painting and Sculpture published by the Wildenstein Plattner Institute in 2017, has been named Chevalier (Knight) of the National Order of the Legion of Honor, the highest French distinction for civil and military accomplishments, by decree of the President of the French Republic, February 7, 2022. The award recognizes Bernstein’s contributions on an international level as an art historian, author, curator, and professor.
In his letter Philippe Etienne, French Ambassador to the United States, described the catalogue raisonné as “a masterful work of benefit to the worldwide arts community. Your research and writing on Johns demonstrate a great interest in revealing the links between Jasper Johns and French artists of the 19th and 20th centuries, such as Marcel Duchamp, Cézanne and Sonia Delaunay. The Legion of Honor commends your numerous works which have influenced the understanding of this burgeoning artistic period in an expanded transnational perspective.”
Bernstein is widely recognized as the foremost scholar of the art of Jasper Johns. Her illustrated monograph, Jasper Johns: Redo an Eye, included as volume 1 of the catalogue raisonné, surveys Johns’s 60-year artistic career from 1954 to 2014 and represents the most comprehensive examination of the artist’s work to date. Two volumes of the catalogue raisonné are dedicated to Johns’s 355 paintings, and another volume comprises his 86 sculptures. Each work is thoroughly documented and illustrated with a full-page reproduction, nearly all of which are in color and were commissioned expressly for the publication. The fifth volume encompasses a biographical chronology of the artist’s life with photographs, record of destroyed works, comprehensive history of 900 exhibitions, literature references for each work, and a bibliography of 1,300 titles. The catalogue raisonné was printed by Trifolio in Verona, Italy.
Bernstein has written, “For more than 60 years Jasper Johns has remained a compelling and influential figure in contemporary art. His most widely influential work—depictions of everyday objects and signs such as flags, targets, flashlights, and lightbulbs—represented a shift in art of the 1950s by introducing subject matter that stood in contrast to the prevailing style of Abstract Expressionism. In subsequent decades, Johns’s art has increasingly engaged issues of memory and mortality, often incorporating references to admired artistic predecessors.”
In 2017-18 Bernstein co-curated the exhibition, “Jasper Johns: ‘Something Resembling Truth,’” organized by the Royal Academy of Arts in London, which traveled to The Broad in Los Angeles. In 2019 she curated the exhibition and catalog for the exhibition “Jasper Johns: Usuyuki,” at the Fergus McCaffrey Gallery in Tokyo. Previously, Bernstein authored Jasper Johns’ Paintings and Sculptures, 1954–1974: “The Changing Focus of the Eye,” UMI Research Press, (1985), which is regarded as among the most significant studies of the first 20 years of the artist’s career, and Seeing a Thing Can Sometimes Trigger the Mind to Make Another Thing, a catalogue essay for Jasper Johns: A Retrospective, Museum of Modern Art, New York (1996).
Elected to Phi Beta Kappa (1965) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Class of 66, Bernstein received her Ph.D. in Art History from Columbia University (1975), writing her dissertation on the art of contemporary artist, Jasper Johns. Bernstein received a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship (1966-67) and Columbia University Fellowship (1967-70) to support graduate work. In the 1970s Bernstein taught at Columbia, University of California, Berkeley, and Barnard College. Bernstein retired from the University at Albany as Professor Emeritus of Art History (2008). While at the University, Bernstein received the University at Albany and State University of New York Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching (1992) and Collins Fellow Award (2000) for “the highest levels of institutional commitment and service.”