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Jasper Johns: 100 Variations on a Theme


Museum of Fine Arts / Houston / Art

Theme: an intaglio plate etched with the fingers-up flat of a hand, and beneath it a horizontal row of American Sign Language hand symbols, overlaid with the word “r a i s o n n e”—reason. Variations: made with string, stenciled numbers, and the leaves from various species of trees (their veins so like the lifelines in a palm). The artist is Jasper Johns. As Igor Stravsinky wrote, “the more constraints one imposes, the more one frees oneself.” In 2015, within these simple constraints—hands, leaves, numbers, string—Johns spun out 100 prints over 10 days. The MFAH debuts the series. —L.J.

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