Corpse and Mirror

Corpse and Mirror
screenprint in colors, on Nishinouchi Kizuki Kozo paper watermark Corpse and Mirror, 1976, signed and dated in pencil, numbered 38/65 (there were also eight artist's proofs in Roman numerals), co-published by the artist and Simca Print Artists, Inc., New York, with the Simca blindstamp, with full margins, in generally good condition, framed
Image: 36 5/8 x 47 in. (950 x 1194 mm.)
Sheet: 42 7/8 x 53 1/8 in. (1089 x 1349 mm.)
Elizabeth Bliss Parkinson Cobb, Hightstown, New Jersey.
By descent from the above to the present owner.
Universal Limited Art Editions 169

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Lot Essay

Beginning in 1972, Johns developed a particular method of crosshatched marks that emulated the look of traditional shading, a technique he continued until 1983. In the large-scale, technically complex masterwork Corpse and Mirror, a kaleidoscopic array of diagonal colors in primary hues of red, yellow and blue displays the artist at the height of his powers. Resulting from thirty-six different screens, Corpse and Mirror displays an exuberant field of bright, rich and joyous color whose simplicity belies the technical complexity of its creation. Arranged along a vertical axis, the two sides of the picture plane appear as mirror images of each other, yet they are further bifurcated by horizontal seams. Any attempt to line up the mirrored images will be thwarted, however, as Johns deliberately complicates and distorts the image, resulting in a carnivalesque hall-of-mirrors effect that boggles the mind but delights the eye. Corpse and Mirror is one of three prints based on Johns’ 1974 painting of the same name; its title refers to the drawing game favored by the Surrealists called “exquisite corpse.”

“The mirror reflects whatever
Is not in the mirror
In some way the mirror reflects whatever
is not in the mirror
In some way the mirror
Shows 'what we do not
Otherwise see.’
Corpse & mirror
Once the symmetrical image
Has been established—continue the work
Mirroring all marks” – Jasper Johns

The present example was part of the collection of Elizabeth Bliss Parkinson Cobb, who was a critical figure at the Museum of Modern Art for for over 70 years. She championed the encyclopedic ethos of the museum, and cared for it deeply from the moment she joined the Junior Advisory Committee in her early 20's until she was named a life trustee in 1993.

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