Jasper Johns

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Johns, Jasper,

1930–, American artist, b. Augusta, Ga. Influenced by Marcel DuchampDuchamp, Marcel
, 1887–1968, French painter, brother of Raymond Duchamp-Villon and half-brother of Jacques Villon. Duchamp is noted for his cubist-futurist painting Nude Descending a Staircase,
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 in the mid-1950s, Johns attempted to transform common objects into art by placing them in an art context. Along with his close friends Robert RauschenbergRauschenberg, Robert
, 1925–2008, American painter, b. Port Arthur, Tex., as Milton Ernest Rauschenberg. He studied at the Kansas City Art Institute, with Josef Albers at Black Mountain College, and at New York's Art Students League.
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, John CageCage, John,
1912–92, American composer, b. Los Angeles. A leading figure in the musical avant-garde from the late 1930s, he attended Pomona College and later studied with Arnold Schoenberg, Adolph Weiss, and Henry Cowell.
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, and Merce CunninghamCunningham, Merce
(Mercier Philip Cunningham), 1919–2009, American modern dancer and choreographer, b. Centralia, Wash. Cunningham studied modern dance with Martha Graham and ballet at Balanchine's School of American Ballet.
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, Johns eschewed the idea of the artist-hero and embraced the experimental, the accidental, and the everyday—aesthetic approaches that became extremely influential in contemporary arts. His flags and target images executed from 1954 to 1959 heralded the pop artpop art,
movement that restored realism to avant-garde art; it first emerged in Great Britain at the end of the 1950s as a reaction against the seriousness of abstract expressionism.
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 movement. Other recurring motifs, which continued into the 1960s, include his beautifully delineated numerals, letters, and maps of the United States. Acclaimed for his painterly touch, Johns based his technique on the informal brushwork and texture of abstract expressionismabstract expressionism,
movement of abstract painting that emerged in New York City during the mid-1940s and attained singular prominence in American art in the following decade; also called action painting and the New York school.
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, sometimes attaching literal elements such as rulers and brooms to the canvas. His bronze castings, such as Beer Cans (1960), are also derived from common objects. His critically acclaimed abstract crosshatch paintings of the 1970s were followed by the allusion-filled, self-referential works of the 1980s and 90s, e.g., the four Seasons (1985–86), which use recurrent motifs as symbols to pull the viewer into engagement with the works. Many of his spare paintings of the early 2000s incorporate real or painted catenaries (curves created by cords hanging from two points), others echo the flagstonelike motifs he used several decades earlier. Throughout his career, Johns has also created drawings and a variety of prints.

Bibliography

See K. Varnedoe, ed., Jasper Johns: Writings, Sketchbook, Notes, Interviews (1996); studies by R. Bernstein (1985), M. Rosenthal (1988), G. Boudaille (1989), F. Orton (1994), J. Yau (1996), and J. Weiss (2007).

Johns, Jasper

(1930–  ) painter; born in Allendale, S.C. After studying at the University of South Carolina, he settled in New York City (1952). By 1955 he had transformed the direction of abstract expressionism by using everyday objects and reinterpreting them. His series of paintings of flags and his mixed media images of targets represented a return to the object as art. He worked in encaustic, a mixture of pigment and beeswax, which, when applied with heat, creates a strong, glossy surface. Known as an intellectual artist and a precursor of pop art, he continued to produce original works and gain in reputation long after the pop art movement faded.
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