Jasper Johns Biography

Jasper Johns




Painter, sculptor, and printmaker, Jasper Johns has become one of America's best-known post-Abstract Expressionists and Minimalists. His name is most associated with pictorial images of flags and numbers, Pop-Art subjects that he depicted in Minimalist style with emphasis on linearity, repetition, and symmetry. Johns completed his first flag painting in 1955, alphabet subjects in 1956, sculpture in 1958, and lithographs in 1960.

Born in Allendale, South Carolina, Johns grew up in that state with no formal art training but did attend the University of South Carolina for two years. In 1949, he moved to New York City but was drafted into the Army. Returning to New York, he began experimenting with styles, and "Flag", dated 1955, earned him his first major attention. It was revolutionary in that it was simply a geometric design on a large canvas, divorced from emotional or political connotation.

In 1959, his work became increasingly abstract, influenced by Surrealism and Dadaism, with surfaces complicated by combining bold colors with letters and other symbols, some of them obvious such as maps and others hard to read. He created assemblage, and from 1972, used a cross-hatching method.

In 1997, a major retrospective of 225 of Johns' work was held in New York at the Museum of Modern Art, organized by Kirk Varnedoe. Following this, he began a new series that were much more muted, mysterious, and serene than his earlier work. The exhibition of these paintings debuted on September 15, 1999 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and traveled to the Yale University Art Gallery in January 2000 and then to the Dallas Museum of Art. In the late 1990s, Johns has been working from a restored barn near Sharon, Connecticut and pursues a hobby of raising bees.