TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT January 1998

JASPER JOHNS: DIVER, 1963

1. THE ARTIST HAS SAID the work shows the idea of a swan dive: legs straight together, back arched, arms stretched out from the sides during the descent. In this interpretation, the parallel bands marked at top center with footprints are not to be thought of as a diving board (a common reading) but, rather, as the body itself gliding down, displaying the soles of the feet. The arms point down, ready to be stretched sideways in the directions marked by the broad arrows at the bottom of the image. So the dive has just been launched. The diver is not entering the water, ready to deliver a breaststroke (another common reading), but is poised in the air. The diving board, the ground from which the diver launches himself, and the breaststroke, in the water in which he will enter, cannot be thought incorrect readings (since the drawing allows them) but subsidiary ones, descriptive of features

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