Our cover this month, “Two Flags” (50 in. by 33¾ in.) by Jasper Johns, sold for $40,625 at Heritage’s Modern and Contemporary Art Auction in Dallas on May 31, 2014. The Georgia-born Johns painted in a style known as Neo-Dadaism, a precursor to Pop Art, which similarly focused on the use of found materials and conventional symbols. The aim was to depict a subject so universal that it stopped mattering, allowing the actual painted surface to be the star.  

Neo-Dadaism was intended to be the polar opposite of Abstract Expressionism, also popular at that time. It rejected the concept of the “artist hero” so commonly associated with the likes of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, whose works the Neo-Dadaists found so individualistic as to be signatures on canvas. Through its complete rejection of subject matter, Abstract Expressionism simply shifted the subject to the artist himself.

As estate planners, while it’s tempting to try the newest and most flashy techniques to impress the client with your legal prowess, often your most valuable contributions are the most yeoman. Ensure that the basic foundational documents are in place and well drafted before you start splattering metaphorical paint everywhere.