Diver, 1962-63 by Jasper Johns

In Johns' Diver of 1962-3, the division of the two panels bisects the image vertically in the middle of the piece, and in the process, creates a line of approximate symmetry. In the top center of the image a pair of footprints points upward, one on each panel, on a strip down the center, which is lighter than the surrounding background area. In the bottom middle of the work a set of downward facing handprints is located at the end of two sets of sweeping marks, appearing as if it were the hands themselves that made these scrapes. One set of the marks arcs outward, curving up and out, to about one third the way up the panels, and ending in an upward pointed arrow tip; the other set of marks extends upward from the hands and out at about a 20? angle. A little over half way up the canvas, this second set of scrapes ends in another pair of handprints, these facing upward, with a downward arrow extending from each hand. The 'background' area of the image is filled with scribbles and smudges, most of it appearing to have been made with the broad side of a charcoal stick. The media used gives this piece a gray and black monochromatic scheme on a brown plane. In the very left-bottom corner, there is the stenciled word "DIVER" in charcoaled letters over the rest of the image.

In looking at Diver, semiotic meaning can be derived by examining the purpose of the symbols and signs in the painting. The most obvious interpretation of the painting comes from the title, which is, as Johns himself has said, "the idea of the swan dive." From the painting, this impression is evident - the straightness of the body in the middle portion, the movement and sweeping of the arms in the handprints and scrapes.

Diver was dedicated to Hart Crane, an American poet - with whose writings Johns seems to identify, because of the repetitive appearances in his work, including this piece, Periscope, and a few others - who in 1932, committed suicide by jumping from a ship and into the ocean.