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Nine Tantric Amulets for Jasper Johns

1994 William Harper Born: Bucyrus, Ohio 1944 gold cloisonne enamel on fine silver with 24, 22, 18, and 14k gold, pearls, garnets, tourmaline, and peridot length: 24 in. (61 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Frances and Sydney Lewis © 1994, William Harper 2002.11 Renwick Gallery
2nd Floor, Room 203

Luce Center Label

Artists often borrow from each other, and each time they do they contribute to the deep history of an idea or piece. This necklace is from a series called Jasper’s Variations---a tribute to contemporary painter Jasper Johns. William Harper borrows the crosshatched pattern in the center medallion from Johns’s Between the Clock and the Bed (1981), which itself was inspired by a 1940-42 self-portrait by Edvard Munch with the same title.

The various charms are based on Hindu or Buddhist tantric scriptures, which deal with meditation, sexual techniques, and other rituals. Harper emphasizes the creative bond he feels with Johns by incorporating their names, side by side, in the center of this piece.


Animal - insect - butterfly

Figure - fragment - hand

Figure - fragment - skull

Homage - Johns, Jasper

decorative arts - jewelry

Crafts - Metal

About William Harper

Born: Bucyrus, Ohio 1944

More works in the collection by
William Harper