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"Map" by Jasper Johns, 1961 | MoMA Education

Video transcript
hi my name is mark Epstein I'm a school programs educator here at MoMA and today we're going to talk about as an artist I'm really attracted to this piece because I just think it's chaos it's this beautiful chaos where the colors are all interacting with one another you see his different consistencies of paint all of these choices that Jasper Johns made and in the background is this almost grid like structure this modernist idea that represents the country I think it's jam-packed with interesting stuff to talk about students say often that it's a map but that it's a map that you couldn't use if you were driving a car you couldn't use it to find anywhere and that Jasper Johns has put in just the basic information where you have the borders of the states and then he stenciled in not very carefully but he's stenciled in the names of a lot of these states so students are sort of interested in why would you take on this idea of a map as an artist if it's not a map that you can actually use to get anywhere what students notice when they look at this piece immediately is the different ways in which Jasper Johns put the paint physically on the canvas so if they focus in on places like Kansas in the middle you can see that the paint is really built up and you can imagine that he's using a really thick consistency of paint and then as you move over to the East Coast you're seeing that the paint gets a little bit drippy er New York Pennsylvania students inevitably start to ask why Jasper Johns has made these decisions why the painting looks so chaotic and usually I point them to the label where we find out that the painting was made in 1961 and we start to come up with theories about what was happening in 1961 and then kids start to take it into these metaphors there's ideas that come up all the time about you know the messiness of the country and the politics always come up and thinking about what was Jasper Johns trying to process in his head while he was taking on this image and making this piece you can imagine Jasper Jones running around his studio flinging paint at this canvas and there's an energy to it that I think really reads when you're looking at the piece you know 50 years after it was made you