Jasper Johns: Take an Object

Released: 
1990

A film by Hans Namuth and Judith Wechsler.

A portrait of the artist at work. The film begins in 1972 with Johns repainting Air Ocean World based on Buckminster Fuller’s dymaxion map. Johns work is traced over the next eighteen years. His Untitled, 1973, with its cross-hatching, flagstones, and anatomical parts become recurrent motifs, as Johns begins to imbed skulls and severed arms in them. The paintings become more personal as Johns gradually “drops the reserve” in his recent series, “The Seasons.” The film culminates with Johns working on the final state of the etching based on “The Seasons.”

There is no narration as such. Jasper Johns speaks at various points, John Cage reads Johns’ statements, then rearranged through a computerized method based on the I Ching, curator Mark Rosenthal comments on several stages of Johns’ work, and Christopher Ricks reads passages from Beckett’s Foirades/Fizzles. Janis Joplin is heard in the background of the first scene. The predominant music is “Perilous Night” by John Cage.

Distributed by MOMA, Circulating Film Library.

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Jasper Johns: Take an Object
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