Interview with Jasper Johns, 2nd Tape, 1991

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Interview with Jasper Johns, 2nd Tape, 1991

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Interview with Jasper Johns, 2nd Tape, 1991
Cunningham, Merce (Creator)
Johns, Jasper, 1930- (Interviewee)
Vaughan, David, 1924- (Interviewer)
Caplan, Elliot (Interviewer)
Caplan, Elliot (Photographer)
Caplan, Elliot (Director)

Merce Cunningham Video Archive

Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1991
Place: Sharon, Massachusetts.
Library locations
Jerome Robbins Dance Division
Shelf locator: *MGZIDF 5048
Johns, Jasper, 1930-
Art, American -- 20th century
Modern dance
Content: Title provided by cataloger, based on original container label and research.
Acquisition: Gift; Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation, 2011-2012.
Physical Description
Extent: 1 videocassette (Video8) (44 min) : sound, color ; 8mm
An interview with artist Jasper Johns, conducted by Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation archivist David Vaughan and filmmaker Elliot Caplan. Johns, who served as the Merce Cunningham Dance Companys artistic advisor from 1966 through 1980, and continued afterwards to consult on design ideas. Johns is heard off screen for several minutes into the material, while the camera focuses in turn on the view outside a window and inside what appears to be Johns workspace or studio, as shots include several of his works. The artist himself is first seen on a monitor. Johns begins by pointing out that he seldom receives any instruction when he is sent the music and other elements for a new Cunningham piece, and is asked if he finds any difficulty working this way in light of the fact that some of the works carry a particularly high degree of challenge. He then speaks about how he incorporates music into his process as he paints (1:55). He is then asked why he feels that audiences sometimes have a problem connecting to John Cages music, often used in Cunningham works (2:20). Johns then discusses newer dancers whose work he has recently seen, as well as his views on dancers who have been influenced directly by Cunninghams work (6:10). He discusses the camaraderie and closeness found in earlier years, when Cage lived near to Johns residence, and Cunningham and other members of their artistic circle were frequently around, and the ways in which this has changed over time (12:50). Johns, Caplan and Vaughan then have a free-flowing discussion of the facets of Merce Cunninghams onstage presence which evoke aspects of theatrical acting rather than pure dance (18:20). Johns then discusses his experiences with Buckminster Fuller (21:00). He then discusses the level of public recognition which Cunningham enjoys (23:15). A discussion of his initial reactions when first encountering Cunninghams work follows, which morphs into a consideration of the emotional difficulties affecting the company as a whole and Merce Cunningham as an individual for much of the troupes history, due to limited opportunities for performance and resistant audiences. (27:18). During a setup break, we then see Caplan and Vaughan in hushed consultation regarding the shape that the remainder of the interview should take (31:25). They then discuss the affinities between some of Johns works and certain Cunningham pieces (38:15). The first part of this interview may be found under *MGZIDF 5053.
Type of Resource
Moving image
RLIN/OCLC: 950971794
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b20970135
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 96025070-2d7a-0137-8017-099dd62170f4
Rights Statement
This item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).

Item timeline of events

  • 1991: Created
  • 2019: Digitized
  • 2024: Found by you!
  • 2025

MLA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Jasper Johns, 2nd Tape, 1991" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1991.

Chicago/Turabian Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Jasper Johns, 2nd Tape, 1991" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed June 14, 2024.

APA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. (1991). Interview with Jasper Johns, 2nd Tape, 1991 Retrieved from

Wikipedia Citation

<ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url= | title= (moving image) Interview with Jasper Johns, 2nd Tape, 1991, (1991)|author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=June 14, 2024 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations}}</ref>

Interview with Jasper Johns, 2nd Tape, 1991