About This Artwork

Jasper Johns
American, born 1930

Near the Lagoon, 2002

Encaustic on canvas and wooden boards with objects
300 x 198.1–214.6 [variable] x 10 cm (118 x 78–84 1/2 [variable] x 4 in.)
Stenciled on bottom recto (paint in several colors):

N J E A A S R P T E H R E J L O A H G N O S O 0 N 2

Straight-edge grid lines and freehand lines on verso (blue crayon and black crayon)

Through prior gift of Muriel Kallis Newman in memory of Albert Hardy Newman, 2004.146

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

Jasper Johns has often affixed objects to the surfaces of his paintings in an ongoing search for non-illusionistic ways of mediating between the flat plane of the picture and a fully dimensional world. For his Catenary series (1997–2003), of which Near the Lagoon is the largest and last work, Johns formed catenaries—a term used to describe the curve assumed by a cord suspended freely from two points—by tacking ordinary household string to the canvas or its supports. In Near the Lagoon, the string activates and engages the abstract, collaged field of multitonal gray behind it, casting an actual shadow on the canvas, in addition to the painted ones that Johns rendered by hand; the string even creates a rut where the artist embedded it into and later pulled it out of the encaustic.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Publication History

Alan Artner, “Wood Prepares to Bid Farewell to Art Institute,” Chicago Tribune, August 15, 2004, section 7, pp. 1-10 (ill.)

Tom Mullaney, “Masterpiece Theatre,” Chicago Magazine (November 2004), p. 40 (ill.)

Fred Camper, “A Painting About Painting,” Chicago Reader, November 26, 2004, section 2, p. 22 (ill.)

New York, Matthew Marks Gallery, Jasper Johns: Catenary, May 7–June 25, 2005, cat. essay by Scott Rothkopf, pl. 42.

James Rondeau, “Near the Lagoon,” Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 32, 1 (2006), pp. 45-46 (ill.)

Ownership History

Jasper Johns, St. Maarten, Dutch Antilles; sold, Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, to the Art Institute, 2004.

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