This work by American artist Jasper Johns is exhibited at the MoMA in New York and is considered the largest work on paper of this creator, since it has dimensions of almost 220 cm. for more than 180. We have already said that it is painted on paper, although this paper is mounted on canvas and two wooden panels. All this forms the support for his painting in which he combined charcoal, watercolors and pastel. In short, a work in which he invested a lot of time for his creation, since the work on it lasted during the years 1962 and 1963.
Diver by Jasper Johns
Regarding the title of there are different interpretations. For some with that idea of a diver or diver, it could allude to the poet Hart Crane, one of his favorite writers, but who had had a sad end, since he committed suicide in 1932, launching himself from a ship to the sea in the Gulf of Mexico. This reference to the poet was made by Johns himself in an interview, in which he said that in his work you could see a head diving into the water. A dive that is indicated by the presence and direction of handprints and footprints, which in turn indicate the stages of the dive.
Obviously all that action is captured in a highly schematic way, although it is quite intense. Actually the theme is not immersion but death and the loss of memories, the mementomori (remember that we all must die) which appears in many other works by Jasper Johns. This is defined by how the hands converge at the bottom center of the work to create the image of a skull.
Critics ofcontemporary artconsider this to be one of Johns' boldest creations, both for the existential themes he captures and for the gesture, tones or materials chosen for the composition of it. It is a work conceived to be seen from a distance, but little by little it captures the attention of the viewer, who is forced to get closer to have a more intimate contact with the work.
Undoubtedly, it is a work very different from other compositions that have made this American artist famous. This is the case of Beer Boats, a work halfway between painting and sculpture, and one of the great emblems of Art Pop. However, in Diver he shows us a much more abstract and conceptual creative facet.