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Luce Foundation Center for American Art

Craft: Jewelry: Nine Tantric Amulets for Jasper Johns
Nine Tantric Amulets for Jasper Johns

Nine Tantric Amulets for Jasper Johns
William Harper
gold cloisonne enamel on fine silver with gold, pearls, garnet, tourmaline, and peridot
length: 24 in. (61 cm)
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Frances and Sydney Lewis
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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.

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Luce Center for American Art