Jasper Johns (b. 1930) is a prominent American painter and printmaker who came of age with the abstract expressionists working in New York in the 1950s. Although he is frequently associated with them his style is not emotional, gestural, nor even abstract, and can better be characterized as a cool, reserved, and consciously controlled counterpoint to that dominant group. In his words, he draws “things the mind already knows” and in that way he had enormous influence on the development of pop art, minimalism, and conceptualism. His recurring images are flags, numbers, targets, and Ballantine Ale cans all of which he likes to transfer from medium to medium, from paintings to prints, for example, or from prints to books, in order to see how the change in medium affects the image’s appearance.

Johns was born in Georgia, raised in South Carolina, and studied briefly at the University of South Carolina. In 1948, after moving to New York, he studied at the Parsons School of Design. His landmark success came ten years later, when he was twenty-eight years old, with a solo show at the Leo Castelli gallery from which the Museum of Modern Art purchased three works.

Shortly after that show Johns became interested in graphic works and has since produced over 350 relief prints, lithographs, silk screens, and etchings. Nan Rosenthal from the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Metropolitan Museum has said he “ranks with Dürer, Rembrandt, Goya, Munch, and Picasso as one of the greatest printmakers of any era.”

His began his graphic work with Tatyana Grosman at Universal Limited Art Editions where he remained for eight years. He then moved to Gemini Editions Ltd in Los Angeles where he experimented with lead reliefs, and in the late 1970s he began working with intaglio processes at Atelier Crommelynck in Paris and New York.

Johns’ work with books began on an auspicious note in 1976 when he collaborated with Samuel Beckett on Foirades / Fizzles. He has since made three other significant limited edition books, Poems (of Wallace Stevens) with the Arion Press, Dancers on a Plane with his friends Merce Cunningham and John Cage, and Sun on 6 with the Grenfell Press.

 

Books with Jasper Johns available from Boreas Fine Art:

[Johns, Jasper ]  Beckett, SamuelFoirades / FizzlesLondon: Petersburg Press, S.A.  1976.

 

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