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Jasper Johns

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Jasper Johns (b. 1930 Augusta, GA) is a painter and printmaker whose contributions to the Abstract Expressionist movement during the twentieth century have made him a giant of modern American art.

Born in Augusta, Georgia and raised in South Carolina, Johns began drawing at a young age. He pursued an art education at the University of South Carolina at Columbia for three semesters. He went on to briefly study 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 best known for his frequent incorporation of the American flag into his artworks, which he has described as a “thing the mind already knows.” Other motifs 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, and cross hatching.

Johns began making prints in the 1950’s while living in New York City. During a shift working as a bookstore clerk, he experimented with rudimentary printmaking using paper and ink. This initial experiment sparked a long career in printmaking and a subsequent mastery of lithography, screenprint and etching. John’ printed oeuvre includes over three hundred works. These prints highlight his fascination with visual memory and the fluctuating evolution of image-making.

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 in numerous prominent museum collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago, IL; Broad Museum, CA; Centre Pompidou, FR; Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Museum Ludwig, DE: Museum of Modern Art, NY; National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC; Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of Art, NY; Tate Gallery, UK; Walker Art Center, MN and the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY.

A retrospective of Johns’ work organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art is set to open in 2020, as well as a separate solo show focusing on his printed works organized by the Walker Art Center the same year. Johns’ work has been included in solo and group exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art (2017), Munch Museet, Oslo (2016) and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2013). In 2017, the monographic exhibition, ‘Jasper Johns: Something Resembling Truth,’ was presented at the Royal Academy in London in collaboration with the Broad Museum.