Jasper Johns, who is alive and well and 86 years old, was born May 15th 1930 in Augusta, Georgia, and raised in South Carolina.
For more than fifty years he has set a standard for American art. Like so many of the famous artists I’ve studied, many of them had their roots of art take hold in childhood. From the age of five Jasper knew he wanted to be an artist.
His work depicts commonplace emblems such as flags, targets, maps, and numbers, and through his genius manipulation to the canvas’ surface texture, he raises the images to iconic status. Constantly challenging the technical possibilities of printmaking, painting and sculpture, Johns laid the groundwork for a wide range of experimental artists.
Jasper is one of the most significant figures in the history of postwar art. His work from 1955 to 1965 was pivotal, and he laid the groundwork for both Pop Art and Minimalism.
Since the 1980s, Johns produces paintings at four to five a year, sometimes not at all during a year. His large scale paintings are much favored by collectors and due to their rarity, it is known that Johns’ works are extremely difficult to acquire.
Today, as his prints and paintings set record prices at auction, the meanings of his paintings, his imagery, and his changing style continue to be subjects of controversy.
Johns had painted his first American flag in 1954, and it is the image with which the artist is most often associated. His White Flag (1955) hangs in the Metropolitan; Three Flags (1958) is in the Whitneys permanent collection. A 1973 piece, Two Flags, sold for $12.1 million in 1989 — the second highest auction price ever achieved by the artist.
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.