American painter and printmaker Jasper Johns is most known for the use of imagery and modern materials and Abstract Expressionism. Johns was born in Augusta, Georgia but raised in different areas of the Carolinas by family members after his parents divorced. Following his High School graduation, he attended the University of South Carolina for three semesters before moving to New York and briefly attending the Parsons School of Design in 1948 at the advice of his teachers. Johns didn’t fit in well with his fellow classmates and stopped attending Parsons. He was drafted into the Korean war in 1951. He served only 2 years before receiving an honorable discharge and Johns returned home to New York.
Upon his return, Jasper Johns met fellow artist Robert Rauschenberg who not only introduced him into the art world of New York, but also formed an intense romantic relationship as well. They lived together and deeply influenced each other. After their break up in 1961 is when his work shifted from more colorful works to the use of grays, black and whites.
His painting, “Flag”, created in 1955 is what helped earn him attention of the art world and get his career going. He had his first solo exhibition in 1958 at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York. He painted many flags and it may be is most recognized work. By the early 1960s, Jasper Johns paintings became more abstract and his color pallet became bolder with letters and symbols as part of the composition. This was part of the influence of Surrealism and Dadaism.
Johns’s work is currently part of the permanent collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Greenville County Museum of Art in South Carolina. Jasper Johns received artist of the Year in 1988 at the Venice Biennale in Italy. He has also been elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Design, was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1990 as well as the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.