Jasper Johns, prostitutes, sex dolls and glory holes

From our review of “Jasper Johns/In Press: The Crosshatch Works and the Logic of Print” at the Harvard Art Museums:

The title of Jasper Johns’s 1975 painting “The Dutch Wives” refers to a slang term for, alternately, a prostitute or sex doll or a glory hole. As the starting point for “Jasper Johns/In Press,” it signals the modern master’s twin strategies.

First, the core of Johns’s work is visual games and optical illusions, often producing philosophical conundrums. His breakthrough 1950s canvases painted like American flags were also in essence flags themselves. Or were they? Second, the gay artist often makes coded sexual references, decipherable to those in the know, but hidden to the homophobic mainstream.

Read the rest here.

“Jasper Johns/In Press: The Crosshatch Works and the Logic of Print” at the Harvard Art Museums, 485 Broadway, Cambridge, Massachusetts, May 22 to Aug. 18, 2012.

Video at top: Katy Martin’s “Hanafuda/Jasper Johns” (1978–81), DVD from Super 8mm film, color, 35 minutes, documents Johns at work on the screenprints “Cicada” and “Usuyuki.”

Above: Katy Martin’s “Silkscreens” (1978), DVD from Super 8mm film, color, 20 minutes, sound by Richard Teitelbaum, shows printmakers working on The Dutch Wives (1977), a twenty-nine-screen print executed two years after the painting of the same name.

Jasper Johns, “The Dutch Wives,” 1975. Encaustic and collage on canvas (two panels mounted together).

Jasper Johns, with master printers Kenjiro Nonaka, Hiroshi Kawanishi, and Takeshi Shimada, at Simca Print Artists, New York, “The Dutch Wives,” 1977. Screenprint from twenty-nine screens on Kurotani Kozo paper.

Jasper Johns, with master printers Kenjiro Nonaka, Hiroshi Kawanishi, and Takeshi Shimada at Simca Print Artists, New York, “Cicada,” 1979. Screenprint from sixteen screens on Kurotani Hosho paper.

Jasper Johns, with master printer Donn Steward at Universal Limited Art Editions (ULAE), Long Island, New York, “0 through 9,” from the portfolio 1st Etchings, Second State, 1969. Etching and open bite on Auvergne paper.

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