Jasper Johns’ Field Painting (1963 – 64) is one of many works the artist has made throughout his career that suggest tactile as well as visual interactions. Sometimes, as in the case of the hinged letters in this canvas and the dangling strings of his later Catenary series, the appended objects actually marked the painted surface.
Johns amplified this idea here by using magnets to attach studio implements, such as a brush and a can for mixing paint, that played a part in the work’s creation and which can be easily rearranged.
Like the buzzy neon R that switches on and off, the entire painting thrums with a feeling of creative life and playful activity. Although these paintings cannot be manipulated while hanging in museums, they still radiate their openness to change.
Photographed as Part of the Exhibit Jasper Johns: Mind Mirror, Which Runs Through Feb 13th, 2022 at the Whitney Museum in NYC.