American, born 1930
“Sometimes I see it and then paint it. Other times I paint it and then see it. Both are impure situations, and I prefer neither.”
Jasper Johns was born in Augusta, Georgia. His first solo exhibition in 1958 was a rousing success. His use of such iconic images as the American flag, the map of the United States, numbers, and targets was distinctive because it offered a provocative alternative to the then-dominant style of Abstract Expressionism by reintroducing recognizable images into painting. Johns’s emphasis on process and serial repetition led him to printmaking, which he mastered early in his career and remains central to his practice.
Let Johns inspire your students to:
- Create a composition using only numbers or letters that utilizes vertical, horizontal, and diagonal lines.
- Trace the shape of a number repeatedly, overlapping the tracings. Once the numbers become abstracted, fill in newly created shapes.
- Cut up and reassemble images that are representative of the United States into an abstract collage.
- Design a school flag.
Book for students:
Where is Jasper Johns?, Debra Pearlman
Find out more from The Museum of Modern Art:
Jasper Johns: A Retrospective
Focus: Jasper Johns
1 from 0-9, gallery label text
Map, gallery label text
Summer, gallery label text
Jasper Johns' Map, School Programs video