Jasper Johns’ Painted Bronze (Ballantine Ale), created in 1960, is a sculpture consisting of two bronze cast beer cans painted to look like regular cans. This artwork showcases Johns’ ability to turn “found objects” into art. The concept for this piece stemmed from Willem de Kooning’s comment about Leo Castelli’s ability to sell anything, including two beer cans. The sculpture blurs the line between a found object and an artistic recreation.
As part of Johns’ series of sculptures that defined his theories of reality, Painted Bronze (Ballantine Ale) portrays doubles and reflections as common themes in the artist’s work. Reflecting reality, it plays on the preconceived notion that art must be something produced in isolation by an artist from scratch rather than using existing pieces found through society. It does not only challenge this narrative but presents a push-back against ordinary commodities while highlighting their artistic significance.
Painted Bronze (Ballantine Ale) was sold by Leo Castelli who served as both a dealer and mentor for Jasper Johns at the beginning of his career. The sculpture has become famous for blurring lines between traditional artwork and everyday objects we see around us every day transforming ready-made objects back into art; giving them permanence forever changed by the creative process they underwent through Jasper Johns’ skilled touch making it stand out even more among other contemporary artworks belonging to its time period.