This motif is based on John's lifesize bronze sculpture of a paintbrush–filled Savarin coffee can (1960). The composition was created first as a poster for a retrospective exhibition of his work, which explains its attention–getting scale. For the background, Johns used a fragment of a then–recent painting of crosshatched strokes. By showing the early sculpture and the painting together, he represented the span of his work at the time of the retrospective.
Gallery label from Focus: Jasper Johns, December 5, 2008–February 16, 2009.