Johns has long been concerned with the visual and conceptual act of decoding. His various manners of painting and drawing, for example, frequently result in a congested accumulation of marks or signs, while his materials include encaustic (a thick, quick-drying wax medium that allows for a visible layering of brushstrokes) as well as objects that have been mounted on the canvas in the manner of assemblage and collage. These elements make Johns' work optically and physically dense; paintings acquire what the artist referred to as an "object quality," and the experience they elicit from the observer is slow and searching, as if form and meaning are at once tangible and obscure. In Perilous Night,...
Encaustic and silkscreen on canvas with objects
170.5 x 244.2cm
Image and text © National Gallery of Art, 2020
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