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Perilous Night Jasper Johns  
StickHandkerchiefSoldier detail  on rightJohn Cage scoreCrosshatch paintingArms
Jasper Johns, Perilous Night, 1982, encaustic on canvas with objects, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Collection 1995.79.1


Visual Archaeology

Perilous Night is dark and dense. Obscure images, mysteriously juxtaposed, act almost as an armor, preventing the viewer from penetrating the painting's meaning.

The painting's structure, however, is clear. It is a diptych, made up of two halves. On the left is a single dark image. On the right are a number of disjointed but clearly defined images and objects. What do they signify and what is the relationship between the two sides?

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