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Behind the Scenes in Conservation: Jasper Johns

by Conservation


conservation , works on paper , Jasper Johns , Carl Solway , Marcel Duchamp , objects conservation

Jasper Johns’ M.D., a single line forms the profile of a human face


The recently opened exhibition Not in New York:  Carl Solway and Cincinnati provided some installation challenges for the Conservation and Installation staff.  One of these challenges was to mount a piece by Jasper Johns, M.D., from the Merce Cunningham Portfolio.  The piece is a dye-cut stencil consisting of cuts through heavy paper that comprise the design.  Paper conservators usually repair cuts and tears, trying to minimize their appearance as much as possible, but that is when the tears are later damages to the work of art.  In this case, the cuts are the work of art, and we needed to mount it in a way that made the design easily visible.  The piece is now matted and framed so that it does not lie flat against the back mat, but has a slightly 3-dimensional surface.  The profile of Marcel Duchamp, a great influence on Jasper Johns and the artist after whom the piece is titled, is clearly visible.  You can see this print and other unconventional works in Galleries 103-105.

Jasper Johns (American, b.1930,) M.D.


Image Credit: Jasper Johns (American, b.1930,) M.D., 1974, die-cut stencil on paper, Irwin and Judith Hanenson Collection, Art © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY; 2009.222.2a

Image 1:  framed print in exhibit

Image 2:  unframed print lying flat