Jasper Johns. Target with Four Faces. 1955

Jasper Johns Target with Four Faces 1955

  • Not on view

For Johns the common shooting target is one of the many "things the mind already knows." Using familiar objects "gives me room to work on other levels," he has explained. Though the target is closely linked with the acts of looking and aiming, the concentric circles of Johns's version are obscured and the surface made tactile with encaustic—pigment mixed with beeswax—on collage. Mounted above the target, four plaster casts taken from a single model over a period of several months are arranged in nonsequential order. A hinged wooden lid offers the option of shutting away the small niches that hold these cropped, eyeless faces.

Gallery label from 2009.

In the mid-1950s Johns incorporated symbols such as numbers, flags, maps, and targets into his paintings. Here, he transforms the familiar image of a target into a tangible object by building up the surface with wax encaustic. As a result, the concentric circles have become less precise and more tactile. Above the target Johns has added four cropped and eyeless faces, plaster casts taken from a single model over a period of several months. Their sculptural presence reinforces the objectness of the painting, particularly as the faces may be shut away in their niches behind a hinged wooden door.

Gallery label from 2011.
Medium
Encaustic on newspaper and cloth over canvas surmounted by four tinted-plaster faces in wood box with hinged front
Dimensions
Overall, with box open, 33 5/8 x 26 x 3" (85.3 x 66 x 7.6 cm); canvas 26 x 26" (66 x 66 cm); box (closed) 3 3/4 x 26 x 3 1/2" (9.5 x 66 x 8.8 cm)
Credit
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert C. Scull
Object number
8.1958
Copyright
© 2018 Jasper Johns / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Department
Painting and Sculpture

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