Jasper Johns

Last updated

Jasper Johns
Born
Jasper Johns Jr.

(1930-05-15) May 15, 1930 (age 89)
NationalityAmerican
Known forPainting, printmaking
Notable work
Flags,Numbers,Maps,Stenciled Words
Movement Abstract expressionism, Neo-Dada, pop art
Awards(1988) Awarded the Grand Prize for Painting at the Venice Biennial Artist of the year
(1989) Awards By MIR
(1990) National Medal of Arts
(1993) Praemium Imperiale
(2011) Presidential Medal of Freedom
Detail of Flag 1954-55, Museum of Modern Art, New York City. This image illustrates Johns' early technique of painting with thick, dripping encaustic over a collage made from found materials such as newspaper. This rough method of construction is rarely visible in photographic reproductions of his work. Jasper Johns, Flag (detail).jpg
Detail of Flag 1954–55, Museum of Modern Art, New York City. This image illustrates Johns' early technique of painting with thick, dripping encaustic over a collage made from found materials such as newspaper. This rough method of construction is rarely visible in photographic reproductions of his work.

Jasper Johns (born May 15, 1930) is an American painter, sculptor and printmaker whose work is associated with abstract expressionism, Neo-Dada, and pop art. He is well known for his depictions of the American flag and other US-related topics. Johns' works regularly sell for millions of dollars at sale and auction, including a reported $110 million sale in 2010. At multiple times works by Johns have held the title of most paid for a work by a living artist.

Printmaking process through which an artistic print is created

Printmaking is the process of creating artworks by printing, normally on paper. Printmaking normally covers only the process of creating prints that have an element of originality, rather than just being a photographic reproduction of a painting. Except in the case of monotyping, the process is capable of producing multiples of the same piece, which is called a print. Each print produced is not considered a "copy" but rather is considered an "original". This is because typically each print varies to an extent due to variables intrinsic to the printmaking process, and also because the imagery of a print is typically not simply a reproduction of another work but rather is often a unique image designed from the start to be expressed in a particular printmaking technique. A print may be known as an impression. Printmaking is not chosen only for its ability to produce multiple impressions, but rather for the unique qualities that each of the printmaking processes lends itself to.

Abstract expressionism American post–World War II art movement

Abstract expressionism is a post–World War II art movement in American painting, developed in New York in the 1940s. It was the first specifically American movement to achieve international influence and put New York City at the center of the western art world, a role formerly filled by Paris. Although the term "abstract expressionism" was first applied to American art in 1946 by the art critic Robert Coates, it had been first used in Germany in 1919 in the magazine Der Sturm, regarding German Expressionism. In the United States, Alfred Barr was the first to use this term in 1929 in relation to works by Wassily Kandinsky.

Neo-Dada art movement

Neo-Dada was a movement with audio, visual and literary manifestations that had similarities in method or intent with earlier Dada artwork. It sought to close the gap between art and daily life, and was a combination of playfulness, iconoclasm, and appropriation. In the United States the term was popularized by Barbara Rose in the 1960s and refers primarily, although not exclusively, to work created in that and the preceding decade. There was also an international dimension to the movement, particularly in Japan and in Europe, serving as the foundation of Fluxus, Pop Art and Nouveau réalisme.

Contents

Johns has received many honors throughout his career, including receipt of the National Medal of Arts in 1990, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. In 2018, The New York Times called him the United States' "foremost living artist." [1]

Presidential Medal of Freedom Joint-highest civilian award of the United States, bestowed by the President

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is an award bestowed by the President of the United States. The Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal are the highest civilian awards of the United States. It recognizes those people who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors". The award is not limited to U.S. citizens and, while it is a civilian award, it can also be awarded to military personnel and worn on the uniform.

<i>The New York Times</i> Daily broadsheet newspaper based in New York City

The New York Times is an American newspaper based in New York City with worldwide influence and readership. Founded in 1851, the paper has won 127 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other newspaper. The Times is ranked 17th in the world by circulation and 2nd in the U.S.

Life

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 Edmunds High School (now Sumter High School) class of 1947 in Sumter, South Carolina, where he once again lived with his mother. [2] 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."

Augusta, Georgia Consolidated city-county in Georgia, United States

Augusta, officially Augusta–Richmond County, is a consolidated city-county on the central eastern border of the U.S. state of Georgia. The city lies across the Savannah River from South Carolina at the head of its navigable portion. Georgia's second-largest city after Atlanta, Augusta is located in the Piedmont section of the state.

Georgia (U.S. state) State of the United States of America

Georgia is a state in the Southeastern United States. It began as a British colony in 1733, the last and southernmost of the original Thirteen Colonies to be established. Named after King George II of Great Britain, the Province of Georgia covered the area from South Carolina south to Spanish Florida and west to French Louisiana at the Mississippi River. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788. In 1802–1804, western Georgia was split to the Mississippi Territory, which later split to form Alabama with part of former West Florida in 1819. Georgia declared its secession from the Union on January 19, 1861, and was one of the original seven Confederate states. It was the last state to be restored to the Union, on July 15, 1870. Georgia is the 24th largest and the 8th most populous of the 50 United States. From 2007 to 2008, 14 of Georgia's counties ranked among the nation's 100 fastest-growing, second only to Texas. Georgia is known as the Peach State and the Empire State of the South. Atlanta, the state's capital and most populous city, has been named a global city. Atlanta's metropolitan area contains about 55% of the population of the entire state.

Allendale, South Carolina Town in South Carolina, United States

Allendale is a town in Allendale County, South Carolina, United States. The population was 3,482 at the 2010 census, a decline from 4,052 in 2000. It is the county seat of Allendale County.

Johns studied a total of three semesters at the University of South Carolina, from 1947 to 1948. [3] He then moved to New York City and studied briefly at the Parsons School of Design in 1949. [3] In 1952 and 1953 he was stationed in Sendai, Japan, during the Korean War. [3]

University of South Carolina University in Columbia, South Carolina

The University of South Carolina is a public research university in Columbia, South Carolina. It has seven satellite campuses throughout the state and its main campus covers over 359 acres (145 ha) in downtown Columbia not far from the South Carolina State House. The university is categorized by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as having "highest research activity." It has been ranked as an "up-and-coming" university by U.S. News & World Report, and its undergraduate and graduate International Business programs have ranked among the top three programs in the nation for over a decade. It also houses the largest collection of Robert Burns and Scottish literature materials outside Scotland, and the world's largest Ernest Hemingway collection.

Parsons School of Design, known colloquially as Parsons, is a private art and design college located in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Lower Manhattan in New York City. It is one of the five colleges of The New School. The school is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious art and design schools in the world and ranks consistently as the top art and design school in the United States.

Sendai Designated city in Tōhoku, Japan

Sendai is the capital city of Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, the largest city in the Tōhoku region, and the second largest city north of Tokyo. As of 1 August 2017, the city had a population of 1,086,012, and is one of Japan's 20 designated cities. The total area of the city is 786.30 square kilometres (303.59 sq mi).

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. [4] [5] [6] In the same period he was strongly influenced by the gay couple Merce Cunningham (a choreographer) and John Cage (a composer). [7] [8] Working together they explored the contemporary art scene, and began developing their ideas on art. [3]

Robert Rauschenberg American artist

Milton Ernest "Robert" Rauschenberg was an American painter and graphic artist whose early works anticipated the pop art movement. Rauschenberg is well known for his "Combines" of the 1950s, in which non-traditional materials and objects were employed in innovative combinations. Rauschenberg was both a painter and a sculptor and the Combines are a combination of both, but he also worked with photography, printmaking, papermaking, and performance.

Rachel Rosenthal was an interdisciplinary and performance artist, teacher, actress, and animal rights activist based in Los Angeles.

Gay is a term that primarily refers to a homosexual person or the trait of being homosexual. The term was originally used to mean "carefree", "cheerful", or "bright and showy".

In 1958, gallery owner Leo Castelli discovered Johns while visiting Rauschenberg's studio. [3] “And we went down," Castelli remembered. "And then I was confronted with that miraculous array of unprecedented images -- flags, red, white and blue... All white... Large ones... small ones, targets... numbers, alphabets. Just an incredible sight... Something one could not imagine, new and out of the blue." [9] Castelli immediately offered Johns 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 this show. [10] In 1963, Johns and Cage founded Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, now known as Foundation for Contemporary Arts in New York City.

Leo Castelli American art dealer

Leo Castelli was an Italian-American art dealer. His gallery showcased contemporary art for five decades. Among the movements which Castelli showed were Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Neo-Dada, Pop Art, Op Art, Color field painting, Hard-edge painting, Lyrical Abstraction, Minimal Art, Conceptual Art, and Neo-expressionism.

Museum of Modern Art Art museum in New York, N.Y.

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is an art museum located in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, on 53rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.

The Foundation for Contemporary Arts (FCA), is a nonprofit based foundation in New York City that offers financial support and recognition to contemporary performing and visual artists through awards for artistic innovation and potential. It was established in 1963 as the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts by artists Jasper Johns, John Cage, and others.

Johns currently lives in Sharon, Connecticut, and on the island of Saint Martin. [11] Until 2012, he lived in a rustic 1930s farmhouse with a glass-walled studio in Stony Point, New York. He first began visiting Saint Martin in the late 1960s and bought the property there in 1972. The architect Philip Johnson is the principal designer of his Saint Martin home, a long, white, rectangular structure divided into three distinct sections. [12]

Work

Painting

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 Neo-Dadaist, as opposed to pop art, even though his subject matter often includes images and objects from popular culture.[ citation needed ] 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.

The paintings of abstract expressionist figures like Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning are indexical in that they stand effectively as a signature on canvas. In contrast, Neo-Dadaists like Johns and Rauschenberg seemed 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.[ citation needed ]

Sculpture

Johns makes his sculptures in wax first, working the surfaces in a complex pattern of textures, often layering collaged elements such as impressions of newsprint, or of a key, a cast of his friend Merce Cunningham's foot, or one of his own hand. He then casts the waxes in bronze, and, finally, works over the surface again, applying the patina. [13] Flashlight is one of his earliest pedestal-based sculptures. [14] One sculpture, a double-sided relief titled Fragment of a Letter (2009), incorporates part of a letter from Vincent van Gogh to his friend, the artist Émile Bernard. Using blocks of type, Johns pressed the letters of van Gogh's words into the wax. On the other side he spelled out the letter in the American Sign Language alphabet with stamps he made himself. Finally, he signed his name in the wax with his hands in sign language. [15] Numbers (2007) is the largest single bronze Johns has made and depicts his now classic pattern of stenciled numerals repeated in a grid. [13]

Prints

Since 1960 Johns has worked closely with Universal Limited Art Editions, Inc (ULAE) in a variety of printmaking techniques to investigate and develop existing compositions. [16] Initially, lithography suited Johns and enabled him to create print versions of iconic depictions of flags, maps, and targets that filled his paintings. In 1971, Johns became the first artist at ULAE to use the handfed offset lithographic press, resulting in Decoy — an image realized in printmaking before it was made in drawing or painting. However, apart from the Lead Reliefs series of 1969, he has concentrated his efforts on lithography at Gemini G.E.L. [17] In 1976, Johns partnered with writer Samuel Beckett to create Foirades/Fizzles ; the book includes 33 etchings, which revisit an earlier work by Johns and five text fragments by Beckett. He has also worked with Atelier Crommelynck in Paris, in association with Petersburg Press of London and New York; and Simca Print Artists in New York. [18] In 2000, Johns produced a limited-edition linocut for the Grenfell Press. [19]

In 1973, Johns produced a print called Cup 2 Picasso, [20] for XXe siècle, a French publication. For the May 2014 issue of Art in America , he created a black-and-white lithograph depicting many of his signature motifs, including numbers, a map of the United States and sign language. [21]

Collaborations

For decades Johns worked with others to raise both funds and attention for Merce Cunningham's choreography. He privately assisted Robert Rauschenberg in some of his 1950s designs for Cunningham. In spring 1963, Johns helped start the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, then intended to sponsor and raise funds in the performance field; the other founders were John Cage, Elaine de Kooning, the designer David Hayes, and the theater producer Lewis B. Lloyd. Johns later was the Merce Cunningham Dance Company's artistic adviser from 1967 to 1980. In 1968 Johns and Cunningham made a Duchamp-inspired theater piece, Walkaround Time, in which Johns's décor replicates elements of Duchamp's work The Large Glass (1915–23). [22] Earlier, Johns also wrote neodada lyrics for The Druds, a short-lived avant-garde noise music art band that featured prominent members of the New York proto-conceptual art and minimal art community. [23]

Commissions

In 1964, architect Philip Johnson, a friend, commissioned Johns to make a piece for what is now the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. [24] After presiding over the theatre's lobby for 35 years, Numbers (1964), an enormous 9-foot-by-7-foot grid of numerals, was supposed to be sold by the center for a reported $15 million. Art historians consider Numbers a historically important work in part because it is the largest of the artist's numbers motifs and the only one where each unit is on a separate stretcher, fashioned from a material called Sculpmetal, which was chosen by the artist for its durability. [25] Responding to widespread criticism, the board of Lincoln Center had to drop its selling plans. [26]

Valuation

In 1998, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York bought Johns' White Flag . While the Museum would not disclose how much was paid, The New York Times reported that "experts estimate [the painting's] value at more than $20 million". [27] The National Gallery of Art acquired about 1,700 of Johns' proofs in 2007. This made the gallery home to the largest number of Johns' works held by a single institution. The exhibition showed works from many points in Johns' career, including recent proofs of his prints. [28] The Greenville County Museum of Art in Greenville, South Carolina, has several of his pieces in their permanent collection.

Johns was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1984. [29] In 1990, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts. [30] On February 15, 2011 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama, becoming the first painter or sculptor to receive a Presidential Medal of Freedom since Alexander Calder in 1977. In 1990 he was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate member and became a full Academician in 1994.

His text Statement (1959) has been published in Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: A Sourcebook of Artists' Writings. [31]

Since the 1980s, Johns typically produces only 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 in the world. [32] 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.

In 1980 the Whitney Museum of American Art paid $1 million for Three Flags (1958), then the highest price ever paid for the work of a living artist. [12] In 1988, Johns' False Start was sold at auction at Sotheby's to Samuel I. Newhouse, Jr. for $17.05 million, setting a record at the time as the highest price 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. [33] In 2006, private collectors Anne and Kenneth Griffin (founder of the Chicago-based hedge fund Citadel LLC) bought False Start (1959) from David Geffen [34] for $80 million, making it the most expensive painting by a living artist. [12] On November 11, 2014, a 1983 version of Flag was auctioned at Sotheby's in New York for $36 million, establishing a new auction record for Johns. [35]

The most expensive work sold of Jasper Johns was Flag (1958), one of a series, was sold privately to hedge fund billionaire Steven A. Cohen in 2010 for a reported $110 million (then £73 million; €81.7 million). The seller was Jean-Christophe Castelli, son of Leo Castelli, Johns's legendary dealer, who had died in 1999. While the price was not disclosed by the parties, art experts say Cohen paid about $110 million. "Flags" are Jasper Johns most famous works. The artist painted his first American flag in 1954–55, a work now at the MoMA. [36]

Other work

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References

Notes
  1. Solomon, Deborah (7 February 2018). "Jasper Johns Still Doesn't Want to Explain His Art" . Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  2. Georgian Encyclopedia.org, New Georgia Encyclopedia 16 January 2009.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Jasper Johns (born 1930); The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
  4. Horne, Peter; Lewis, Reina (1996). Outlooks: lesbian and gay sexualities and visual cultures. Routledge. p. 43. ISBN   978-0-415-12468-3. Rauschenberg, who was better known in 1963 than Warhol was, and Jasper Johns were both prototypical Pop artists as well as gay men; they also were lovers.
  5. "Gay Artist Robert Rauschenberg Dead at 82". The Advocate. 14 May 2008. He met Jasper Johns in 1954. He and the younger artist, both destined to become world-famous, became lovers and influenced each other's work. According to the book Lives of the Great 20th Century Artists, Rauschenberg told biographer Calvin Tomkins that 'Jasper and I literally traded ideas. He would say, 'I've got a terrific idea for you,' and then I'd have to find one for him.'
  6. Zongker, Brett (1 November 2010). "Smithsonian explores impact of gays on art history". The Associated Press. When artist Jasper Johns was mourning the end of his relationship with Robert Rauschenberg, he took one of his famous flag paintings, made it black, and dangled a fork and spoon together from the top. Hidden symbols in Johns' "In Memory of My Feelings," tell part of story, curators said. Color from the relationship is gone. A fork and spoon elsewhere in the painting are separated. Here we have a coded glimpse into a six-year relationship that was rarely acknowledged even in Rauschenberg's 2008 obituary. The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery is decoding such history from abstract paintings and portraits in the first major museum exhibit to show how sexual orientation and gender identity have shaped American art.
  7. Vaughan, David (27 July 2009). "Obituary: Merce Cunningham". The Observer.
  8. Lanchner, Carolyn; Johns, Jasper (2010). Jasper Johns. The Museum of Modern Art. p. 45. ISBN   978-0-87070-768-1
  9. "The Flags of Jasper Johns". The Attic. Archived from the original on 2018-07-27. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  10. Finkel, Jori. Artist Dossier: Jasper Johns. May 2009, Art+Auction.
  11. Betti-Sue Hertz. “Jasper Johns' Green Angel: The Making of A Print” Resource Library (San Diego Museum of Art) January 29, 2007.
  12. 1 2 3 Vogel, Carol (February 3, 2008). "The Gray Areas of Jasper Johns". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-02-03.
  13. 1 2 Jasper Johns: Numbers, 0–9, and 5 Postcards, November 2, 2012 – January 5, 2013 Matthew Marks Gallery, Los Angeles.
  14. Jasper Johns, Flashlight (1960/1988) Archived 2009-04-25 at the Wayback Machine Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.
  15. Jasper Johns: New Sculpture and Works on Paper, May 7 – July 1, 2011 Matthew Marks Gallery, New York.
  16. Jasper Johns: Prints 1987 – 2001, April 24 – June 7, 2003 Gagosian Gallery, London.
  17. Gemini G.E.L.: A Catalogue Raisonné, 1966–2005 | Jasper Johns National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
  18. Johns: The Prints, February 2 – April 13, 2008 [ permanent dead link ] Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.
  19. "Sun on Six by Jasper Johns on artnet Auctions". Artnet.com. 2012-05-12. Retrieved 2013-12-05.
  20. Jasper Johns, Cup 2 Picasso (1973) Christie's London, September 16, 2009.
  21. Carol Vogel (April 17, 2014), Art as Magazine Insert New York Times .
  22. Alistair Macaulay (January 7, 2013), Cunningham and Johns: Rare Glimpses Into a Collaboration New York Times.
  23. Patty Mucha on The Druds
  24. Julie Belcove (April 29, 2011), Meaning in the making Financial Times .
  25. Frank DiGiacomo (January 18, 1999), Art in the Gilded Age: Lincoln Center Czars Hang Up Jasper Johns New York Observer .
  26. Carol Vogel (January 26, 1999), Lincoln Center Drops Plan to Sell Its Jasper Johns Painting New York Times.
  27. Vogel, Carol (October 29, 1998). "Met Buys Its First Painting by Jasper Johns". New York Times. New York Times. Retrieved 2008-02-28.
  28. Brett Zongker (March 6, 2007). "National Gallery to Get Jasper Johns Prints". The Associated Press. Retrieved 2008-04-16.
  29. "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter J" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved June 2, 2011.
  30. "National Medal of Arts". The National Endowment for the Arts . Retrieved October 20, 2013.
  31. Kristine Stiles & Peter Selz, Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: A Sourcebook of Artists' Writings (Second Edition, Revised and Expanded by Kristine Stiles) University of California Press 2012, p. 375
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Bibliography
Further reading