Jasper Johns (born 1930)
Collage and graphite pencil on stencil board, 1964

Collection of the artist
© Jasper Johns / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

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Jasper Johns created his first visual response to Duchamp in 1964 with M.D., a profile silhouette of the artist composed of collaged paper and graphite. The work builds upon Duchamp’s Self-Portrait in Profile (1957), acknowledging his use of negative space to create the illusion of presence. Departing from the original, Johns shifts the orientation of the silhouette and the paper from which it was torn. He explains: “I took a tracing of . . . [Duchamp’s] profile, hung it by a string and cast its shadow so it became distorted and no longer square.”

In altering the orientation, Johns demonstrated his familiarity with Duchamp’s reflections on perspectival systems in his Green Box (a 1934 collection of notes related to The Large Glass, first published in English in 1959), about which Johns wrote a review in 1960. His method also reflects the influence of Duchamp’s writings on the use of cast shadows in The Large Glass.

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Listen to co-curator Anne Goodyear discuss this image: