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Doubles and Reflections

The twin concepts of the mirror and the double—understood as both image and process—stand out among Jasper Johns’s most abiding preoccupations.

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Corpse and Mirror II, 1974–75, by Jasper Johns
Corpse and Mirror II, 1974–75, by Jasper Johns (American, born 1930) (Collection of the artist) © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Symmetrical structures proliferate across the great diversity of Johns’s paintings and drawings. Sometimes this visual strategy unfolds internally within drawings or canvases that are divided by a central seam, or that feature a pair of nearly identical motifs or objects, either stacked, or adjacent. In other cases, Johns explores duality across different versions of an image or work, executed, for example, in both color and black-and-white, in encaustic and oil, at small and large scale, or in a painting on canvas and a work on paper. With his cast sculptures and reliefs, Johns often complicates the relationships between an “original” object, a negative mold, and a positive metal cast.

By confronting the viewer with the paradoxes of sameness and difference, the artist calls attention to the act of perception itself, an active mode of engagement that has long been hailed as a hallmark of Johns’s art.

The corresponding gallery at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York focuses on mirrors and doubles.


Image Gallery

All works by Jasper Johns, © Jasper Johns / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Flashlight, 1960, by Jasper Johnsundefined
Flashlight, 1960, cast around 1979, by Jasper Johnsundefined
Two Flags, 1962, by Jasper Johnsundefined
Two Maps, 1989, by Jasper Johnsundefined