Jasper Johns (b. 1930 Augusta, GA) is a painter and printmaker whose great contributions to the Abstract Expressionist movement during the twentieth century have made him a giant of modern American art as well as a revered specialist in the field of fine art printmaking.
Born in Augusta, Georgia and raised in South Carolina, Johns began drawing and considering an artistic career from a young age. He pursued an art education at the University of South Carolina at Columbia for three semesters and studied briefly at the Parsons School of Design in New York before serving in the United States army for two years during the Korean War. After his service, he returned to New York in 1953 and became close friends with artist Robert Rauschenberg, choreographer Merce Cunningham, and composer John Cage.
Johns is most known for his frequent incorporation of the American flag, which he has described as “things the mind already knows”. Other recurring symbols in his work include targets, numbers, and maps. Throughout his career and across media, Johns has also repeated marks and shapes that imply handprints and footprints, casts of body parts, stamps made from objects found in his studio, or cross hatching. The multiple meanings behind these signs push viewers to think and observe closely.
In 2017, the monographic exhibition, Jasper Johns: ‘Something Resembling Truth,’ was presented at the Royal Academy in London. In 2003, Johns’ prints produced since 1987 were exhibited at the Gagosian Gallery in London for the solo exhibition Prints 1987-2001 exhibition. The Museum of Modern Art in New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Kunstmuseum Basel, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art have also held solo exhibitions of the artist. Johns has been awarded the Grand Prize for Painting at the Venice Biennale in 1988, the Praemium Imperiale in Tokyo in 1993, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.
His work is represented in major public collections, among them the Art Institute of Chicago; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC; and the Tate Gallery, London.