It’s Day 80 and that means I’ve completed 80 paintings. They are already taking up so much space, I can’t imagine what 365 will take up…well, actually I can imagine. I’m having a grumpy, sad, bad day, but had fun painting my tribute to Jasper Johns today.
Jasper Johns, Jr. (born May 15, 1930) is an American contemporary artist who works primarily in painting and printmaking.
Born in Augusta, Georgia, Jasper Johns spent his early life in Allendale, South
Carolina, with his paternal grandparents after his parents’ marriage failed. He then spent a year living with his mother in Columbia, South Carolina and thereafter he spent several years living with his aunt Gladys in Lake Murray, South Carolina, twenty-two miles from Columbia. He completed high school in Sumter, South Carolina, where he once again lived with his mother. Recounting this period in his life, he once said, “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 a total of three semesters at the University of South Carolina, from 1947 to 1948. He then moved to New York City and studied briefly at the Parsons School of Design in 1949. In 1952 and 1953 he was stationed in Sendai, Japan during the Korean War.
In 1954, after returning to New York, Johns met Robert Rauschenberg and they
became long-term lovers. For a time they lived in the same building as Rachel Rosenthal. In the same period he was strongly influenced by the gay couple Merce Cunningham (a choreographer) and John Cage (a composer). Working together they explored the contemporary art scene, and began developing their ideas on art. In 1958, gallery owner Leo Castelli discovered Johns while visiting Rauschenberg’s studio. Castelli gave him his first solo show. It was here that Alfred Barr, the founding director of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, purchased four works from his exhibition. In 1963, Johns and Cage founded Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, now known as Foundation for Contemporary Arts in New York City.
Johns currently lives in Sharon, Connecticut and on the Island of Saint Martin. Until 2012, he lived in a rustic 1930s farmhouse with a glass-walled studio in Stony Point, New York. He first began visiting St. Martin in the late 1960s and bought the property there in 1972. The architect Philip Johnson is the principal designer of his home, a long, white, rectangular structure divided into three distinct sections.
Johns 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 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
subscribed 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 Rauschenbergseemed 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.
Since the 1980s, Johns produces four to five paintings a year; some years he produces none. His large scale paintings are much favored by collectors and because of their rarity are extremely difficult to acquire. His works from the mid to late 1950s, typically viewed as his period of rebellion against Abstract Expressionism, remain his most sought after. Skate’s Art Market Research (Skate Press, Ltd.), a New York based advisory firm servicing private and institutional investors in the art market, has ranked Jasper Johns as the 30th most valuable artist. The firm’s index of the 1,000 most valuable works of art sold at auction—Skate’s Top 1000—contains 7 works by Johns.
Already in 1980 the Whitney Museum of American Art spent $1 million for Three Flags (1958), then the highest price ever paid for the work of a living artist. In 1988, Johns’ “False Start” was sold at auction at Sotheby’s to Samuel I. Newhouse, Jr. for $17.05 million setting a record for the time as the highest paid for a work by a living artist at auction, and the second highest price paid for an artwork at auction in the U.S. This particular sale prompted the Guerrilla Girls to produce a poster stating: “For the 17.7 million you just spent on a single Jasper Johns painting, you could have bought at least one work by all of these women and artists of color” followed by a list of 67 female artists. The poster brought attention to the discrimination in the art world against female artists, which is still a prevalent issue today. In 2006, private collectors Anne and Kenneth Griffin (founder of the Chicago-based hedge fund Citadel LLC) bought Johns’False Start (1959) from David Geffen for $80 million, making it the most expensive painting by a living artist.
This is only an excerpt of his extensive biography from wikipedia.
I chose to do my own version of Jasper John’s flag paintings. And then I realized after watching TV today that it embodied Captain America as well…wasn’t trying to accomplish that at all, but okay!
I’m having a bad day today and am not feeling too up to blogging it up so I’m going to just post my painting and I hope you enjoy it! At least I’m sticking to being honest. 🙂 See you tomorrow. xoxo, Linda
I tend to like things that already exist.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/jasper_johns.html#pIjBCW8iDsFvSfd3.99
one of my idols… very captain americaish-really like it! wrote this before i read that you thought the same.
newspaper would have been very cool too!
Thanks! That’s funny about the Captain America thing. 🙂 glad you like it.
Sorry to hear that you are feeling low today, I hope you are not putting yourself under too much pressure.
I really enjoy the postings that I receive from your blog, with your paintings and precis of the artist’s biographies. Some of the artists I know, others are first time introductions that I have really enjoyed, even googling them to learn more! Thank you.
I tried to do a painting in the style of Joan Mitchell a few weeks ago in a class that I go to, that is how I cam across your blog. I found it to be impossible, probably due to highly unrealistic expectations! But I learned a great deal and it certainly will feed into how I paint in my own style.
I love Jasper Johns. His biography suggests how the iconic image of the American flag became a totem in his superbly textured multi media explorations.
Best wishes to you, Nancy.
Believe it or not, before moving to Sumter and then Columbia, Jasper Johns grew up next door to my sister-in-law’s grandparents (long deceased) in Allendale, about 15 miles from me. Local legend has always held that there are people in Allendale who own original early Johns works that would be worth a king’s fortune now. Of course, the rumor is denied by everyone in Allendale (for obvious reasons), and nobody has ever seen one displayed. So, it has developed into something of a fun “rural legend” over the years. LOL!