Blackened Angel

inadvertent self-portrait of a Taurus

This untitled acrylic and watercolor seemed to stand apart from the several series of new works on paper Jasper Johns is showing at Matthew Marks this month.

It shows the “Green Angel” motif, an abstracted outlined form Johns used for a group of work only used around 1990, and whose source he long refused to disclose. [Artist Cristóbal Lehyt identified it this year: a photo of an unusual, little mashup of a Rodin sculpture of a minotaur holding a centauress torso.] But the date is 1990+2019, implying Johns revisited an old work.

The motif is there, apparently drawn out in dark lines on a multicolored ground, and then all the spaces are blacked out, right up to the lines. When any of this happened, or the impetus for returning to a decades-old work and reworking it, was not known. It would be interesting to check the drawings CR, though, and see how the “original” (sic) Green Angel work on paper fits into the flow.

Jasper Johns studio, June 2021, with some works to be shown in the current Matthew Marks exhibition, including the big, black Untitled on the left, and some Slice-related works, (but not Slice itself, on the right.) image via

When John Yau wrote about the Rodin discovery in May, I imagined this year would see a bounty of Johns reveals. We now know some of what Johns knew when he made this work, and when he reworked it. But as this photo of the artist’s studio from June shows, now Johns knows that we know, and he included it…anyway? As a little treat?

Jasper Johns New Works on Paper is on view at Matthew Marks through Oct. 31, 2021 []
previously, related: Jasper Johns Fan Dance