Jul 23, 2007




Jasper Johns

(American, b. 1930)

Encaustic and collage on canvas

Framed: 154 x 114.5 x 4 cm (60 5/8 x 45 1/16 x 1 9/16 in.); Unframed: 155 x 111.7 cm (61 x 44 in.)

Purchase, Accessions Reserve Fund, and Andrew R. and Martha Holden Jennings Fund 1973.28



In the encaustic technique, pigment is suspended in wax that is heated and used as paint, but which dries quickly once it is applied to the canvas. The gesture of the artist’s hand and the strokes and drips of the brushwork are thus readily apparent. Here the technique emphasizes the artist’s working process, but it also seems like an ironic commentary on the gestural abstract painting that was common in New York when Jasper Johns created this piece. Johns also applied a piece of extra canvas to the work, folding it into the surface to create a three-part composition. The title suggests that the painting really only has meaning in the mind of the spectator, who “reconstructs” the work according to the basic vocabulary of marks and materials that the artist presents.

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