Jasper Johns, as he himself says, knew he wanted to be an artist since he was 5. Raised in a small town in South Carolina, attended the State University before moving to New York to pursue an artistic career. Came to the town in 1948, initially attended art courses, but served as a soldier in the Korean War and remained with informal jobs as window dresser where he worked with Robert Raushenberg (another artist ascending at the time). Also met the artist Marcel Duchamp, the composer John Cage and choreographer Merce Cunningham (who designed costumes for), the names central progressive arts scene.
In 1954, he had a dream that led him to paint his revolutionary version of the American Flag (Flag 1954-1955), the dream turned out to be prophetic, because in 1958 ,the prestigious Leo Castelli Gallery in New York held its first exhibition with extraordinary success: MoMA has acquired various pieces of the show and his fate was sealed. From 1970, his work has broken successive records of American artists alive.
In his works, he includes flags, maps, labels, numbers and letters and depicts his pleasure in playing with “things the mind already know.” Part of this game consisted in paint an expressive two-dimensional objects and prosaic of American culture, always with very rich textures, obtained with the use of encaustic (pigment mixed with wax).
Another feature used was the subversion of the traditional concepts of space, as seen in “Three Flags,” painting in which the superposition of three American flags reverts the expectations of our gaze.
Over the past fifty years Johns has created a body of rich and complex work. His rigorous attention to the themes of popular imagery and abstraction has set the standards for American art. Constantly challenging the technical possibilities of printmaking, painting and sculpture, Johns laid the groundwork for a wide range of experimental artists. Today, he remains at the forefront of American art, with work represented in nearly every major museum collection.
“What I see is real… the painting should be an object, a thing in itself” JOHNS, Jasper