In the early 1970's, Johns developed the theme of crosshatching which dominated his work for over ten years. Corpse and Mirror is based on an earlier painting in which black strokes appear on a white field. Here the reverse is true and the ground itself is black over which a layering of white and grey inks form an elaborate grid of crosshatched lines. The formal composition of the piece is the same in all of the Corpse and Mirror paintings and prints. The field is divided into two equal halves vertically and six equal panels horizontally. The mirrored pattern of the lines reflect on the vertical axis and change direction at each of the horizontal joins. This recalls the surrealist game cadavre exquis or exquisite corpse where a player makes a drawing on a piece of paper which is then folded over so that only the edge is visible to the next player who continues, thus producing a continuous but not logically linked image.