Jasper Johns

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Jasper Johns

Flag, Encaustic, oil and collage on fabric mounted on plywood,1954-55
Born 1930 (1930)
Augusta, Georgia
Nationality American
Field Painting, Printmaking
Movement Abstract Expressionism, Neo-Dada, Pop Art
Works Flag, Numbers, Map, stenciled words
Influenced Pop Art
Detail of Flag (1954-55). Museum of Modern Art, New York City. This image illustrates Johns' early technique of painting with thick, dripping encaustic over a collage made from found materials such as newspaper. This rough method of construction is rarely visible in photographic reproductions of his work.
Jasper Johns, Map, 1961. Museum of Modern Art New York City. Flags, maps, targets, stenciled words and numbers were themes used by Johns in the 1960s.
Numbers by Jasper Johns at the David H. Koch Theater.

Jasper Johns, Jr. (born May 15, 1930 in Augusta, Georgia) is an American contemporary artist who works primarily in painting and printmaking. He is represented by the Matthew Marks Gallery.


[edit] Life

Jasper Johns grew up in Allendale, South Carolina. Recounting this period in his life, he says, "In the place where I was a child, there were no artists and there was no art, so I really didn't know what that meant. I think I thought it meant that I would be in a situation different than the one that I was in."

Johns studied at the University of South Carolina from 1947 to 1948, a total of three semesters.[1] He then moved to New York City and studied briefly at the Parsons School of Design in 1949.[1] While in New York, Johns met Robert Rauschenberg, with whom he had a relationship,[2] as well as Merce Cunningham and John Cage. Working together they explored the contemporary art scene, and began developing their ideas on art. In 1952 and 1953 he was stationed in Sendai, Japan during the Korean War.[1]

In 1958, gallery owner Leo Castelli discovered Johns while visiting Rauschenberg's studio.[1]

Johns currently lives in Sharon, Connecticut.[citation needed]

[edit] Work

He is best known for his painting Flag (1954-55), which he painted after having a dream of the American flag. His work is often described as a Neo-Dadaist, as opposed to pop art, even though his subject matter often includes images and objects from popular culture. Still, many compilations on pop art include Jasper Johns as a pop artist because of his artistic use of classical iconography.

Early works were composed using simple schema such as flags, maps, targets, letters and numbers. Johns' treatment of the surface is often lush and painterly; he is famous for incorporating such media as encaustic (wax-based paint), and plaster relief in his paintings. Johns played with and presented opposites, contradictions, paradoxes, and ironies, much like Marcel Duchamp (who was associated with the Dada movement). Johns also produces intaglio prints, sculptures and lithographs with similar motifs.

Johns' breakthrough move, which was to inform much later work by others, was to appropriate popular iconography for painting, thus allowing a set of familiar associations to answer the need for subject. Though the Abstract Expressionists disdained subject matter, it could be argued that in the end, they had simply changed subjects. Johns neutralized the subject, so that something like a pure painted surface could declare itself. For twenty years after Johns painted Flag, the surface could suffice - for example, in Andy Warhol's silkscreens, or in Robert Irwin's illuminated ambient works.

Abstract Expressionist figures like Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning ascribed to the concept of a macho "artist hero", and their paintings are indexical in that they stand effectively as a signature on canvas. In contrast, Neo-Dadaists like Johns and Rauschenberg seemed preoccupied with a lessening of the reliance of their art on indexical qualities, seeking instead to create meaning solely through the use of conventional symbols. Some have interpreted this as a rejection of the hallowed individualism of the Abstract Expressionists. Their works also imply symbols existing outside of any referential context. Johns' Flag, for instance, is primarily a visual object, divorced from its symbolic connotations and reduced to something in-itself.

In 1998, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York bought Johns' White Flag. While the Met would not disclose how much was paid, "experts estimate [the painting's] value at more than $20 million."[3] In 2006, private collectors Anne and Kenneth Griffin (founder of the Chicago-based hedge fund Citadel Investment Group) bought Johns' False Start for $80 million, making it the most expensive painting by a living artist.[4]

The National Gallery of Art acquired about 1,700 of Johns' proofs in 2007. This made the Gallery home to the largest number of Johns' works held by a single institution. The exhibition showed works from many points in Johns' career, including recent proofs of his prints. [5]

[edit] Other work

  • White Flag (1955)[6]
  • False Start (1959)
  • Study for Skin (1962)
  • Figure Five (1963-64)
  • Seasons (1986)
  • Three Flags (1958)
  • Painting With Two Balls (1960)

In spring 2008, a ten-year retrospective of Johns' drawings was mounted at New York City's Matthew Marks Gallery.

[edit] Appearance in popular culture

In 1999, Jasper Johns guest-starred in the animated television series The Simpsons, as himself. In the episode "Mom and Pop Art", Homer Simpson accidentally becomes an artist, and Johns attends one of his exhibitions. Johns is portrayed as a kleptomaniac, stealing food items, lightbulbs, a motorboat, and a painting which Marge is working on.

[edit] References

[edit] External links

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