Jasper Johns

  • Born 1930 in Augusta, GA, USA
Rendering symbols of identity and everyday imagery (such as the American flag, body parts, and sequences of letters and numbers) with brushy strokes and collaged elements, Jasper Johns’s approach bridges the traditions of appropriation and Expressionist art. Johns studied at the University of South Carolina in 1947 and 1948. He moved to New York City later that year, where in 1949 he briefly attended Parsons School of Design. In 1952, Johns was drafted into the army and stationed in Sendai, Japan. Upon his return to New York in 1953, he became acquainted with his future romantic partner Robert Rauschenberg (1925–2008), as well as John Cage (1912–1992) and Merce Cunningham (1919–2009). They embarked on multidisciplinary collaborations that resisted the prevalent tendencies of Abstract Expressionism. Considered a Neo-Dadaist, Johns began recreating imagery such as flags, maps and targets. He later worked with stenciled numbers and letters, relocating attention from the unique to the standardized. Johns received his first gallery solo show at New York’s Leo Castelli Gallery in 1958, from which the Museum of Modern Art purchased four paintings, including Flag (1954–55) and Target with Four Faces (1955). Johns was awarded the Grand Prize for Painting at the Venice Biennale in 1988 and showed at every Documenta between 1964 and 1977.