About This Artwork

Jasper Johns
American, born 1930

Corpse and Mirror II, 1974/75

Oil and sand on four joined canvases, with artist's painted frame
146.4 x 191.1 cm (57 5/8 x 75 1/4 in.), including frame
Not inscribed on recto

Lent by the artist, 7.1976

Art © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

In his work from 1972 to 1983, Jasper Johns used a distinct arrangement of crosshatched marks, traditionally considered a graphic method of adding depth and volume to an image or conveying the illusion of light in space. Johns first glimpsed this pattern on a passing car, recalling: “I only saw it for a second, but knew immediately that I was going to use it. It had all the qualities that interest me—literalness, repetitiveness, an obsessive quality, order with dumbness, and the possibility of a complete lack of meaning.” Emphasizing the flatness of the painting, Johns’s cross-hatching is gestural without being emotive; in this sense, the technique extends his larger critique of overtly expressionist models of painting. Johns forged a new model of painterly abstraction, using a schema that is repeatable and ordered but not strictly geometric or reductive.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

New York, Leo Castelli Gallery, “Jasper Johns,” January 24–February 14, 1976.

Art Institute of Chicago, “Seventy-Second American Exhibition,” March 13–May 9, 1976, no. 19 (ill. p. 24).

Kassel, “Documenta 6,” June 24–October 2, 1977, "Malerei Jasper Johns" no. 1.

New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, “Jasper Johns,” October 17, 1977–January 22, 1978, no. 156 (color ill. pl. 163). Traveled to: Cologne, Museum Ludwig in der Kunsthalle Köln, February 10–March 26, 1978, no. 121; Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou, Musée National d’Art Moderne, April 18–June 4, 1978; London, Hayward Gallery, June 21–July 30, 1978, no. 149; Tokyo, Seibu Museum of Art, August 19–September 26, 1978, no. 163; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, October 20–December 10, 1978, no. 122.

New York, Museum of Modern Art, “Jasper Johns: A Retrospective,” October 20, 1996–January 21, 1997, no. 158 (color ill. p. 288). Travelled to Cologne, Museum Ludwig, March 8–June 1, 1997, no. 170 (color ill. p. 300); Tokyo, Museum of Contemporary Art, June 28–August 17, 1997, pp. 275–77, no. 158 (color ill. p. 288).

Riehen, Fondation Beyeler, “Jasper Johns: Werke aus dem Besitz des Künstler/Loans From The Artist,” October 21, 1997–February 15, 1998 (extended to March 20), no. 11 (color ill. p. 49).

Richmond, Virginia, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, "Spotlight Loans: Pollock, Johns, LeWitt," June 27-September 21, 2008.

Oslo, Munch Museum, Jasper Johns + Edvard Munch, June 18–Sept. 25, 2016, fig. 8; Richmond, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, as Jasper Johns and Edvard Munch: Love, Loss, and the Cycle of Life, Nov. 19,20016–Feb. 20, 2017.

Publication History

Thomas B. Hess, “On the Scent of Jasper Johns,” “New York Magazine” (February 9, 1976), n.pag., repr. in Susan Brundage, ed., “Jasper Johns, 35 Years: Leo Castelli” (Harry N. Abrams, 1993), n.pag.

Robert Hughes, “Pictures at an Inhibition,” “Time” (October 31, 1977), p. 86 (color ill.), as “Corpse and Mirror, 1976.”

Richard Francis, “Jasper Johns,” Modern Masters 7 (Abbeville Press, 1984), pp. 86, 88, fig. 92 (ill.). For a general discussion of Johns’ crosshatch paintings, see pp. 85–91.

Charles Harrison and Fred Orton, “Jasper Johns: ‘Meaning What You See,’” “Art History” 7, 1 (March 1984), pp. 78, 89, pl. 36 (ill.).

Nan Rosenthal and Ruth E. Fine, “The Drawings of Jasper Johns,” exh. cat. (National Gallery of Art/Thames and Hudson, 1990), pp. 226, 228, 230, 232, fig. 69a (ill.).

Richard Shiff, “Constructing Physicality,” “Art Journal” 50, 1 (Spring 1991), pp. 46–47, fig. 4 (ill.).

Stephen Paul Miller, “‘Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror,’ the Watergate Affair, and Johns’s Crosshatch Paintings: Surveillance and Reality-Testing in the Mid-Seventies,” “Boundary 2” 20, 2 (Summer 1993), p. 113.

Fred Orton, “Figuring Jasper Johns” (Harvard University Press, 1994), pp. 9, 188, 192, 195, fig. 64 (ill.).

John Ravenal, Jasper Johns and Edvard Munch: Inspiration and Transformation, exh. cat. (Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and Yale University Press in partnership with the Munch Museum), pp. 8; 9, fig. 8 (color ill); 121.

Ownership History

Collection of the artist.

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