The Seasons (Summer), 1987 by Jasper Johns
This colored intaglio print is one of four belonging to a series of the four seasons, which the artist intended should be shown together. In 1985-86, Johns made four 75 x 50 inch encaustic paintings, Spring, Summer, Fall, and
Winter, which may be read as an allegory of the artist's life and interests. They relate to a longstanding artistic and literary tradition of works about the four seasons and four ages of man. The line etching and elegantly
deployed aquatint washes of the prints follow the iconography of the paintings. In each there is a filled-in silhouette of the artist's shadow, originally traced from a template made by a friend in the strong sunlight of
Saint-Martin in the French West Indies. In each season, an imprint of an arm and a palm clocks the progress of the year and the aging of the man.
In The Seasons (Summer) etching, Johns has rendered the tree branch leafy and added a tiny hummingbird on a limb. On a cart (drawn from Picasso's Minotaur Moving His House, 1936), Johns placed attributes of his own work: double American flags; pots by the ceramicist George Orr, which he collects (and a Mona Lisa, signaling his great interest in Leonardo da Vinci and Marcel Duchamp, who quoted Leonardo in his assisted readymade LHOOQ (1919). There is also a striated canvas that disguised Johns' quotations in a number of earlier paintings of the diseased demon panel in Matthias Grünewald's Isenheim Altarpiece. A seahorse evokes the image of a horse giving birth in the Picasso painting and perhaps questions gender stereotypes, as it is the male seahorse that incubates eggs in a pouch in his abdomen.