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PRINT March 1994

JASPER JOHNS: IN MEMORY OF MY FEELINGS—FRANK O’HARA, 1961

I am a jockey with a sprained ass-hole I am the light mist in which a face appears

— Frank O'Hara, “In Memory of My Feelings”

I DISTRUST NARRATIVES OF ORIGINShere is where my desire began—but I repeatedly feel compelled to concoct them.

1977: a college sophomore, naive, addicted to obfuscation, I visited the Jasper Johns retrospective at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art with my friend, a violinist with the eyes of a Bellini Madonna. Before this exhibit I’d seen little contemporary painting. But I loved transcendence, and I loved the Bellini-eyed violinist, and I wished to impress her by unfurling my art-historical intuitions in front of masterpieces. I wanted to be straight, to be a guy. Could the museum help?

Together we rode the Johns show like a Tunnel of Love. We clutched each other; we talked about the pilgrimage of our perceptions. The frothy discourse we generated glued us

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