Interview with Jasper Johns, 1st Tape, 1991

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Interview with Jasper Johns, 1st Tape, 1991

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Interview with Jasper Johns, 1st Tape, 1991
Cunningham, Merce (Creator)
Johns, Jasper, 1930- (Interviewee)
Vaughan, David, 1924- (Interviewer)
Caplan, Elliot (Photographer)
Caplan, Elliot (Interviewer)
Caplan, Elliot (Director)

Merce Cunningham Video Archive

Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1991
Place: Sharon, Massachusetts
Library locations
Jerome Robbins Dance Division
Shelf locator: *MGZIDF 5053
Cage, John
Johns, Jasper, 1930-
Cunningham, Merce
Merce Cunningham Dance Company
Modern dance -- History -- United States
Art, American -- History -- 20th century
Art -- History -- United States
Content: Title provided by cataloger, based on original container label.
Content: Second part of interview may be found under call number *MGZIDF 5048.
Acquisition: Gift; Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation, 2011-2012.
Physical Description
Extent: 1 videocassette (Video8) (124 min) : sound, color ; 8mm
The majority of the interview is shot outside, and construction and airplane noise can make some responses difficult to hear.
The first part of an interview with artist and former Merce Cunningham Dance Company artistic advisor Jasper Johns. The footage begins with documentarian/cameraman Elliot Caplan setting up prior to the interview. MCDC archivist David Vaughan begins by asking Johns about Cunningham work which hed seen prior to meeting Merce Cunningham and John Cage. He also speaks about his initial encounters with the duo (4:16). He then talks about his collaboration with Robert Rauschenberg in co-designing sets and costumes for Cunningham pieces (13:00). He is then asked about various reported anecdotes regarding Cage and Cunninghams experiences while on tour (21:05). He talks about the work of other artists, choreographers and dancers in the creative scene of the 1960s. (23:00) Vaughan asks about a season on Broadway for the company which Johns produced and co-sponsored in the late 1960s, marking one of Cunninghams first large-scale NYC appearances. This evolves into a larger conversation regarding the founding and early years of the Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation, as well as a consideration of the composition of the dance troupes earliest audiences (27:00). Johns then discusses the effect of Cage and Cunninghams work and his personal connection with them on his own creative process, response to criticism and other elements of artistic life (38:13). He then talks about the ways in which Cage and Cunninghams personalities balanced each other (53:00). Vaughan then asks about the genesis of Johns advisory position within the Cunningham company and the milieu and methods surrounding his work in that position (55:25). Following the end of this portion (63:09), Caplan and his crew make some adjustments and move the interviewee to a different location (all shown on camera). Johns also runs across the road to speak to a neighbor. As the interview resumes, he is asked about anecdotes regarding the creation of various Cunningham pieces (69:53). At the end of this section, the interview breaks temporarily, and various footage of Caplan taking test shots and atmosphere shots both outside and inside Johns studio ensues. The interview proper then continues with a discussion of aesthetic elements of Johns design for some Cunningham pieces (100:00) Johns then considers artistic commonalities between his work and Cunninghams as a whole, as well as the evolution of Cunninghams choreographic approach over time (107:30). The interview ends abruptly. Its continuation may be found under call number MGZIDF 5048.
Type of Resource
Moving image
RLIN/OCLC: 950971128
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b20970315
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): da227230-2d7e-0137-06d9-173d86efaecf
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, 1st 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, 1st Tape, 1991" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed June 17, 2024.

APA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. (1991). Interview with Jasper Johns, 1st Tape, 1991 Retrieved from

Wikipedia Citation

<ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url= | title= (moving image) Interview with Jasper Johns, 1st Tape, 1991, (1991)|author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=June 17, 2024 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations}}</ref>

Interview with Jasper Johns, 1st Tape, 1991