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Artists Jasper Johns
Jasper Johns Photo

Jasper Johns

American Painter and Printmaker

Movement: Neo-Dada

Born: May 15, 1930 - Augusta, Georgia

Jasper Johns Timeline

Quotes

"I tend to like things that already exist."
Jasper Johns
"I feel that works of art are an opportunity for people to construct meaning, so I don't usually tell what they mean. It conveys to people that they have to participate."
Jasper Johns
"Early on I was very involved with the notion of the painting as an object and tended to attack that idea from different directions."
Jasper Johns
"In my early work, I tried to hide my personality, my psychological state, my emotions. This was partly due to my feelings about myself and partly due to my feelings about painting at the time. I sort of stuck to my guns for a while but eventually it seemed like a losing battle. Finally one must simply drop the reserve."
Jasper Johns

"I think a painting should include more experience than simply intended statement."

Jasper Johns Signature

Synopsis

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.

Key Ideas

Rather than direct representation or abstraction, Johns made signs, like flags and targets, the main images in his works. The "things the mind already knows" were his ideal subject because of the host of varied meanings each carried with it. This fostered the perceptual ambiguity and semiotic play at the heart of his works.
Johns quoted the gesturally evocative Abstract Expressionist brushstroke, using the idea of the artist's mark as merely another symbol that enhanced the multiplicity of meanings and interpretations in his paintings.
Like his Dada predecessor and mentor, Marcel Duchamp, Johns artistically initiated a dialogue in each artwork that was meant to be resolved within the mind of the viewer. His expansion of this ideal throughout his oeuvre ushered the open-ended aesthetic typically associated with movements at the start of Postmodernism, like Conceptual art.
Through his use of shreds of newspaper, found objects, and even mass-produced goods like Ballantine Ale and Savarin Coffee cans, Johns erased the division between fine art and mass culture. This shifted modern art away from abstraction towards the consumer landscape of mid-20th century America.

Biography

Jasper Johns Photo

Childhood

Born in 1930 in Augusta, Georgia, Jasper Johns grew up in rural South Carolina and lived with his paternal grandparents after his parents divorced when he was only a toddler. The paintings of his deceased grandmother, hung in his grandfather's house where he lived until the age of nine, provided his only exposure to art in his childhood. Johns began drawing at a very young age, with a vague intention of wanting to become an artist, but only pursued an official art education in college. He described his childhood desire to become an artist, stating, "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 moved in with his Aunt Gladys for a few years in his adolescence during which she taught him, and two other students, in a one-room schoolhouse. Eventually Johns reunited with his re-married mother, and graduated as the valedictorian of his class at his high school in Sumter, South Carolina.

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Jasper Johns Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Jasper Johns
Interactive chart with Jasper Johns's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Marcel DuchampMarcel Duchamp
Pablo PicassoPablo Picasso
Willem de KooningWillem de Kooning
Arshile GorkyArshile Gorky

Personal Contacts

Robert RauschenbergRobert Rauschenberg
John CageJohn Cage
Merce CunninghamMerce Cunningham

Movements

Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism
DadaDada

Influences on Artist
Jasper Johns
Jasper Johns
Years Worked: 1954 - present
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Andy WarholAndy Warhol
Ed RuschaEd Ruscha
Claes OldenburgClaes Oldenburg
Frank StellaFrank Stella
Roy LichtensteinRoy Lichtenstein

Personal Contacts

Robert RauschenbergRobert Rauschenberg
John CageJohn Cage
Merce CunninghamMerce Cunningham
Philip JohnsonPhilip Johnson
Leo CastelliLeo Castelli

Movements

Neo-DadaNeo-Dada
Pop ArtPop Art
MinimalismMinimalism
Conceptual ArtConceptual Art

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Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Rachel Gershman

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Rachel Gershman
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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