Jasper Johns

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Jasper Johns, is that very rare breed of American painters whose name is considered amongst the great artists. Most hail from Europe or Latin America, but Johns was able to make quite a mark on contemporary art. Johns laid the foundation of the so called term ‘Pop Art’ which remains very much alive today. As a painter Johns’ focus was not on landscapes or portraits, instead he dabbled into abstract art. The subject matter of Johns’ art were often objects from pop culture, art lovers today consider him a scion of ‘Pop Art’ due to the way he is able to depict classic iconography through his art.

Jasper Johns, Jr. was born on May 15, 1930 in Augusta, Georgia and was raised mostly by his grandparents. Due to the nature of where he was born and that fact that he had very little exposure to art Johns discovered the dynamics of art well after his college days. It was only a move to New York, where he went to visit various art galleries and exhibitions which intrigued his interest. Johns’ art has the unique ability to play with the viewer’s mind, his art gives weight to the fact that art can be both modern and fun at the same time. According to Johns, art shouldn’t have any boundaries, which is why Johns’ art perfectly embodies the culture around it and presents it in an aesthetic form. It’s almost as if his art is trying to mingle with the viewer. Though Johns worked mostly with paint, he also experimented uniquely with pieces of paper, clay and cardboard to make his art. His most memorable work, Flag was in fact a painting of the American flag which Johns claims he had a dream about. It’s not just a painting of a simple abstract flag, looking deeper into it the viewer can see how many layers of paper have been utilized for the different colored layers. Moreover, each white and red stripe contains text.

Even today Johns’ iconic Flag carries different meaning and connotations for his admirers. It is a typical style of Johns, to explore where the mind already knows everything yet nothing. Johns’ art has given life to mundane objects like flags, cups, tables and wooden stands to name a few. Almost as homage to the Flag, a few years later Johns made another masterpiece called Three Flags. This painting comprises of three mirror images of the American flags in different sizes, all of which are overlapping one another. Despite being one of the most influential and significant American painters of the 20th century, Johns remained an enigma to the world. His lack of desire to talk about his private life or his work in general has been well documented and only adds to his image as a reclusive but brilliant artist.  Johns rarely gives any interview and has a reputation for being a very private person; he is one of those artists who don’t even paint for himself but for the viewer. Johns’ ability to turn everyday objects and figures into amazing pieces of art is still marveled at and quoted today. Another fascinating thing about Johns is his keenness to collaborate with fellow artist, a rarity amongst many other greats of his time due to intense competitiveness and rivalries. Johns never believed in such ideologies, and to this day states that there is always more to art than meets the eye.

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