Artist Spotlight: Jasper Johns

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Monday, April 27th, 2015

Painter and printmaker Jasper Johns is best known for his paintings of maps, flags and targets that lead the artistic community from Abstract Expressionism into a new emphasis on concrete objects. He laid the groundwork for both Pop Art and Minimalism and his work influenced nearly every artistic movement from the 1950s to present day.

Johns served two years in the military, toured Japan and then finally settled in New York where he supported himself until 1958 by working in a bookstore.

Over the years, Johns has been a Minimalist and Symbolist. However, Johns rejected labels and prefers that viewers draw their own conclusions of his work. His ideal subjects are “things the mind already knows,” because of the many meanings of each subject, each inspiring his innovative technique. Today, Johns remains at the forefront of American art and his work can be seen in nearly every major museum collection.

Born: May 15, 1930, Augusta, GA

Famous work: Flag (1954-55) and White Flag (1955)

Facts about Jasper Johns:

  • Jasper Johns had painted the Flag and Target series as a cultural assault after being discharged from the Army.
  • One of his more famous works, White Flag, was painted 7 by almost 10 feet to make the viewer feel overwhelmed and command respect, and to represent a shroud that covered officially sanctioned criminal acts.
  • Collaborated with numerous artists, authors, and performance artists such as Andy Warhol, Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, Samuel Beckett, Frank O’Hara, Merce Cunningham and Allan Kaprow.
  • “Appeared” as himself on the Mom and Pop Art episode of The Simpsons.

QUOTE: “Take an object. Do something to it. Do something else to it.”

Jasper Johns illustration by Michael Finch ’10