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Whole in Two

I like to repeat an image in another medium to observe the play between the two: the image and the medium.

—Jasper Johns to Christian Geelhaar1

I MUST HAVE READ IT on an airplane since that’s the only occasion I ever have to see Time magazine. I remember my indignation over what I viewed as Robert Hughes’ dismissal of Jasper Johns, his complaint that, though Johns had invented some “memorable iconic images,” still, “there have not been very many of these.” This seemed to have been what he took away from Johns’ retrospective in 1977: a repetitiveness that was merely fussy, as “lithography enabled Johns to run scores of variations on his standard themes.”2

My exasperation in reading this passage had been fed by the wholly different set of my own remembered feelings, ones more akin to gratitude and certainly allied to pleasure, as I moved from painting to painting and from drawing to painting

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