Label Text: Jasper Johns used the image of a Savarin coffee can stuffed with brushes to represent himself in this symbolic self-portrait. What do you think he was trying to say about himself? The coffee can also references Johns’ past as a Pop Artist, when he lifted familiar objects like flags, targets, and numbers from their everyday context in order to raise questions about these objects and their place in our culture.
The unusual cross-hatched background pattern featured here was also prevalent in Johns’ work of the 1970s. It is believed that Johns is referring to a similar pattern found in a painting by the early-20th-century, Expressionist painter Edvard Munch. Johns pays further tribute to the artist by including a red arm that stretches across the bottom of the print (Munch’s 1895 Self-Portrait also features a skeletal arm in the bottom panel of the composition), along with Munch’s initials. Johns obviously felt admiration for and a connection to this Norwegian artist.