The themes of this work appear to be art, dance, sex and religion. It was inspired by a Tantric painting of the god Shiva represented as Lord of the Dance and copulating with the goddess Sakti. Johns presents the dance abstractly in the 'dancing' forms on the canvas, but at the centre top and bottom of the frame are stylised images of a vulva and testicles. The work is dedicated to Johns's friend the celebrated dancer Merce Cunningham. His name and the title are written along the bottom of the picture but intermingled: The words are composed of alternate letters, read right to left, beginning with the fourth letter from the left edge and continuing inwards from the right edge.
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Jasper Johns (32)