(1930 - )
Style: Pop Art
- Flag (1954)
- Target with Plaster Casts (1955)
- Diver (1962-63)
Jasper Johns took the long road to life as a professional artist. Though Johns had artistic leanings as a child, his upbringing in the rural South did not afford him formal training, nor did it expose him to the world of art. Johns did seek art instruction in college, briefly attending the University of South Carolina and New York's Parsons School of Design before being drafted into the Army. Following his service and living in New York, Jasper became acquainted with Robert Rauschenberg. The two would have an intense long-term relationship, and tremendous influence on one another artistically. Johns and Rauschenberg developed a new vision which stemmed from Abstract Expressionism, but allowed for the use of symbolic, even iconic imagery. Maps, targets, and flags were typical subjects for Johns. Rauschenberg was more experienced than Johns in the world of art, and secured him a show at the gallery of Leo Castelli in 1958. Jasper Johns submitted one of his most famous works, Flag, for this show, and the floodgates of popularity opened for the virtually unknown artist. Although the symbols in Johns' works were faithfully depicted like the objects from real life, the surface of the canvas moves with textured and energized brushwork, emphasizing the tension between familiarity and the artist's expression. Johns insisted that there was no symbolism present in selecting the flags, only a deliberate effort to reorganize the viewer's perception. Johns continues to create art, though he has produced in relatively small volume since the 1980s. Johns remains a huge success and his work hangs in major museums around the globe.