Johns’s work often explores the concept of doubling, examining distinctions between two like but dissimilar images. In Two Maps I he probes this idea in a single work, juxtaposing two renderings of the immediately recognizable United States map. By printing them differently—one more amorphous, the other more distinct—he prompts viewers to look closely and assess the well-known image anew. Also, by omitting the state names Johns invites viewers to appreciate the composition’s form without “reading” it for information. The same year, Johns made a new iteration, Two Maps II, further expanding his visual exercise with this compelling and iconic symbol.
Gallery label from Artistic Collaborations: 50 Years at Universal Limited Art Editions, January 17–May 21, 2007.