who is jasper johns
In 1958, Leo Castelli visited the museum of Rauscenburg, and this was the first time he had seen any of the work created by Jasper Johns. He was impressed with the creativity, and simplicity behind the work, and offered the 28 year old, a spot for his own exhibit, upon first viewing the pieces which Jasper Johns had created. During the first exhibition, the Museum of Modern Art purchased three of the pieces that were on display, which proved that the simple format, and style, were going to make Jasper Johns a force in the art world. Nearly 30 years after this date, some of the pieces that Johns had created, were sold for a higher price tag than ever, for a living artist’s work.
Jasper Johns was born in Augusta, GA, and raised in Adelade, SC. From an early age, he grew up wanting to be an artist. Before moving to New York in the early 1950s, he studied for a brief period at the University of South Carolina. Upon moving to New York, Jasper Johns met artists, which led him down the road of wanting to work in this career field even more. John Cage (composer) and Merce Cunningham (choreographer), and Robert Rauschenburg (painter), were some of the early influences he met in New York. A visit to Pennsylvania, to view “The Large Glass” (by Marcel Dunchamp), created an intrigue in his work for Johns. Dunchamp had changed the art world with the “readymades”( a series of found objects, painted as finished works). His distinct work and style played a role in Jasper Johns’s interest in art, and the style he would eventually follow.
The paintings Johns went on to produce depict commonplace two-dimensional subjects such as flags, targets, maps, numbers, and letters of the alphabet, all readily recognizable and painted in simple colours. He was able to raise these objects to the level of icons through his paint handling and an extremely sensitive manipulation of surface texture, which he obtained by the encaustic technique, in which pigments are mixed with hot liquid wax. In their willful and ironic banality and their rejection of emotional expression, these early works were a radical departure from the Abstract Expressionist styles that dominated the American art scene at the time. Johns’s unabashed depiction of commonplace emblems and objects was emulated by many Pop Art artists; one of Johns’s best-known works is a cast sculpture of two Ballantine Ale cans, Painted Bronze (1960).
Jasper Johns, (born May 15, 1930, Augusta, Georgia, U.S.), American painter and graphic artist who is generally associated with the Pop art movement.
This, Johns’ first major work, broke from the Abstract Expressionist precedent of non-objective painting with his representation of a recognizable everyday object – the American flag. Johns built the flag from a dynamic surface made up of shreds of newspaper dipped in encaustic – with snippets of text still visible through the wax – rather than oil paint applied to the canvas with a brush. As the molten, pigmented wax cooled, it fixed the scraps of newspaper in visually distinct marks that evoked the gestural brushwork of the Abstract Expressionists of the previous decade. The frozen encaustic embodied Johns’ interest in semiotics by quoting the “brushstroke” of the action painters as a symbol for artistic expression, rather than a direct mode of expression, as part of his career-long investigation into “how we see and why we see the way we do.”
The reverberations of the work of Jasper Johns affected nearly every artistic movement from the 1950s through the present day. Johns engaged with modernist precedents like the original Dada movement and Abstract Expressionism in order to actively refute the hierarchy of modernism that reduced the aesthetic experience to the distinct material qualities of the medium and removed it from the viewer’s life. He did so by initiating a dialogue with the viewer and their cultural context through his artistic exploration of how people see the things around them. By representing common objects and images in the realm of fine art, Johns broke down the boundaries traditionally separating fine art and everyday life. He effectively laid the foundation for the Pop art movement’s aesthetic embrace of commodity culture with his playfully subversive appropriation of common signs and products. Johns’ exploration of semiotics and perception also set the stage for both the Conceptual art movement and the Postmodern movement of the following decades, while his multimedia collaborations with John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, and Merce Cunningham ushered in the dominance of the performance art movement in the 1960s and 1970s.
In 1954, Johns had a dream in which he was painting an American flag. This inspired him to create “Flag,” a painting in encaustic (a technique that uses pigments mixed with melted wax). Johns destroyed nearly all the art he’d created before “Flag” because the pieces had been “done with the spirit that I wanted to be an artist, not that I was an artist.”
In his art, Johns doesn’t try to convey a specific message; instead, he prefers that his audience interpret his work and find its meaning themselves. Besides painting, he has worked in sculpture, drawing and printmaking. He also collaborated with figures such as Andy Warhol and the writer Samuel Beckett (Johns produced prints to accompany Beckett’s “Fizzles” text).
Watchman was made while Jasper Johns was living abroad in Tokyo, Japan, in 1964. The seminal work features a wax cast of Johns’s friend’s leg, two canvas panels, and half of a standard dining table chair. The surface of the painting is seemingly in the midst of action. The words “red,” “yellow,” and “blue” printed partially on left side of the canvas appear as though in a state of erasure, while their colorful pigment counterparts appear (also disrupted) on the right. The ejection of the chair upward to the sky leaves an aftermath of orange, green, and gray, like a falling rain of expressive marks across a once ordered surface. Overall, Watchman is a painting that is trying to be more than a painting; it is caught in the very moment where the world of thought and representation (of symbols and signs) is transitioning into the world of action and physical expression.
Jasper Johns’s groundbreaking 1958 installation at the Leo Castelli Gallery of his famous target and flag works changed the current of New York painting and had an extraordinary impact on contemporary art. In the paintings, Johns presents images that move into the realm of objects and wrestle with the validity of representation as a philosophical concept. The targets and flags, in the words of critic Leo Steinberg, were “co-extensive” with their canvases, existing somewhere between a symbol and a thing in the world. Not only did these paintings begin Johns’s successful dismantling of modern art through his ironic analysis of structures and rituals, but they also became the innovative new ground on which a generation of painters and sculptors made their work. Johns’s own career spans from the flags, through the device motif in the early 1960s, into the crosshatch paintings of the 1970s, and to his complex, densely layered recent works.