Jasper Johns | the artist
The artist Jasper Johns
Born May 15 1930, Augusta, Georgia, USA.
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An American contemporary artist, Jasper Johns is famous for printmaking and a vast collection of painting works. He was born in Augusta but spent most of his early life in Allendale with his grandmother. Johns studied at the Parsons School of design in New York in 1949.
After being stationed in Japan during the Korean War, he returned to the US and worked at the contemporary art scene with Robert Rauschenberg. In 1958, he staged his first solo show with help from Leo Castelli. That exhibit paved the way for his prominence, as Alfred Barr purchased four of his artworks and placed it at the Museum of Modern Art. Eventually, Jasper Johns founded the Foundation for Contemporary Arts in New York with another artist and friend, John Cage. Johns currently lives on the island of Saint Martin in Sharon, Connecticut.
Jasper Johns made a huge collection of paintings but he is particularly famous for his ‘Flag’ artwork. Observing his early works, these elements were almost always incorporated in them: flags, targets, maps, numbers, and letters. He is also quite known for using plaster reliefs in his paintings. He is also fond of presenting contradictions, opposites, ironies, paradoxes, and such. Apart from paintings, he also creates lithographs, sculptures, and intaglio prints.
One of the strongest influences of Johns in his painting works is Marcel Duchamp. In one of sculpture works however, he used a letter from Vincent van Gogh. When it comes to his printmaking works, he partnered with writer Samuel Beckett in creating Foirades Fizzles. He also did several collaborations and commissions in his entire career.
Jasper Johns’ ‘White Flag’ was featured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and it was one of three of his most prominent flag works. The other one was simply called ‘Flag’ which he made in 1954. Most of his works however, can be found at the National Gallery of Art. The institution holds some 1,700 pieces of his works. His other works were ‘Three Flags’ (1958), ‘Target with Plaster Casts’ (1955), ‘False Start’ (1959), ‘Coathanger’ (1960), ‘Figure Five’ (1963), ‘Titanic’ (1976), ‘Seasons’ (1986), and many others.
Interviews and Statements
In an interview at the photo exhibit ‘Cy Twombley’ at Amsterdam, Jasper Johns stated that, “To be an artist, one has to give up everything – and that includes the desire to become a good artist.”
He also implicated that in his personal opinion, self-description is a calamity. And so in the ‘Abstract Expressionism’ exhibit in London, he was quoted saying, ‘I do not want my work to be an exposure of my own feelings.’
Painter, sculptor and printmaker Pop Art Jasper Johns, influential artist of the 20th century.
The subject of his work was how we perceive and label objects. His famous iconic paintings are Flags and Target with Four Faces.
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Johns’s art unites mastery, mystery, simplicity, and contradiction. His methodical working process combines intense deliberation and experimentation, obsessive craft, cycles of revision and repetition, and decisive shifts of direction. Johns also frequently borrows images from other artists, which, ironically, only underscores the originality of his own vision. ..
Works in the collection of the National Gallery of Art
Works in the TATE collection
Together with Rauschenberg and several Abstract Expressionist painters of the previous generation, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Barnett Newman, Johns is one of most significant and influential American painters of the twentieth century. He also ranks with Dürer, Rembrandt, Goya, Munch, and Picasso as one of the greatest printmakers of any era. In addition, he makes many drawingsunique works on paper, usually based on a painting he has previously paintedand he has created an unusual body of sculptural objects…
…But Johns in his paintings does not seduce for seduction’s sake. He does it to distract us from his other intentions. His paintings are famously full of hidden meanings – not for nothing has he been an attentive reader of Sherlock Holmes – and the good news from 142 Greene Street is that in the last few years he has begun to work with a whole new slew of images…