Artist Jasper Johns accesses the American collective consciousness through his post-Abstract Expressionist paintings, autobiographical drawings, and unusual sculptures. Born in Georgia and raised in the South Carolina, he began drawing at the age of five and cultivated his artistic passion throughout his teenage years. He attended the University of South Carolina at Columbia and immediately moved to New York in 1948. After serving two years in the Korean War, he moved back to New York in 1954 and struck up a friendship with artist Robert Rauschenberg. It was at this time that Johns began reinterpreting the American flag through a minimalist lens, as seen in White Flag (1955) and Flag (1957). Johns expounded on this image through more paintings, prints, and drawings. At his first solo show at the Leo Castelli Gallery in 1958 and subsequent exhibitions, he exhibited his flag paintings as well as other “things the mind already knows”: targets, cans, numbers, and letters. In the 1970s and 80s, Johns’ employed new techniques and mediums – including cross-hatching and lithographs – resulting in increasingly abstract works approaching Dadaism. As a Grand Prize winner at the Venice Biennale in 1988, the subject of a major retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1997, and the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011, he has become one of the most beloved and celebrated modern American artists.
“Jasper Johns.” The Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. Web. 16 Nov. 2011.