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Jasper Johns Biography

Jasper Johns, the American born Neo-Dadaist and Pop artist is often cited for his infamous series, the “Flag” and “Target.” In both groups of works his key traits are portrayed: the use of American imagery, painterly brush strokes, and repetition.

Johns, who is renowned for his exquisite paintings, is considered to be one of the best printmakers in history. Johns believes that printmaking stimulates innovation since it makes it simple for him to go in new directions. The realm of prints has undergone a revolution thanks to Johns’ creative contributions to screenprinting, etching, linocutting, and lithography. Johns has produced more than 450 limited print editions over the course of seven decades, in addition to a large number of one-of-a-kind trial proofs, monotypes, hand-colored proofs, etc.

While his use of American imagery (Ballatine Ale Cans) and repetition (Three Flags) can be related to the Pop Art movement, which portrayed popular culture and objects that were a part of everyday life, his style in which he painted had more of an expressive quality (for example his Crosshatch series, often titled by numbers such as #4, #6). This can be understood as influenced by the Abstract Expressionists (like Jackson Pollock). Yet, by using popular images, modern materials, and the work still taking on an expressive quality, John’s work can be understood as Neo-Dadaist – a period in art that was understood as an intermediary between Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art.

In 2020, there were two major Jasper Johns museum print exhibitions; Jasper Johns: 100 Variations On a Theme at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston – an exhibition of 100 unique prints created over ten days; and An Art of Changes: Jasper Johns Prints, 1960–2018 at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, a printmaking retrospective of 90 Johns prints in intaglio, lithography, woodcut, linoleum cut, screenprinting and lead relief.

Johns produced many prints, his first prints being created in the 1960s. Many of Johns’ prints were lithograph prints though he also created etching prints, woodcut prints and drypoint prints. All of Johns prints are original prints as Johns saw printmaking as a distinct medium to create artworks.

Read the Blog: Jasper Johns Crosshatched Prints.

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