In 1966 Jasper Johns took up etching and, typically, began with a restatement of several of his most important motifs in 1st Etchings, 1st State (1968). His sparse, wirey lines were little more than reminders of the three-dimensional objects on which they were based: flashlight, lightbulb, ale cans, Savarin can with brushes, flag, and numbers. In 1st Etchings, 2nd State (1969), Johns strengthened the illusion of space in each etching by additive (black) or subtractive (white) marks around the original lines.
In printmaking, I think it would be perfectly reasonable never to destroy the images on the plates and stones, and always to have them available for use in new works, new combinations...
Central to Johns' printmaking is his exploitation of transfer and memory - reusing, reprinting, or mirroring of motifs - often as a substitute for or denial of his own personal experience. Everywhere Johns makes use of a "past" derived from activities of making rather than from autobiography... embedded in the repeated reworkings of an intaglio plate... Everything was, and continues to be, recycled: image, motif, and technique. And what could be more intimately connected to the essence of printmaking itself?
~excerpt from Richard Field's introduction to The Prints of Jasper Johns 1960-1993, a catalogue raisonné