Exhibition | Jasper Johns: What's the Meaning of This?

Jan 3, 2018 — Feb 18, 2018

Jasper Johns (born 1930) is the world’s most critically acclaimed living artist. His work bridges the immediate post-World War II modernist trends of Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism with subsequent movements of the 1960s, including Pop art, Minimalism, and Conceptual art. While his reputation is international, Johns has deep roots in South Carolina. Born in 1930, he grew up in Allendale, the Columbia area, and Sumter; he attended the University of South Carolina for three semesters before moving to New York to pursue his career in art.

As a young artist, Johns narrowed his subjects to commonplace objects, “things the mind already knows,” but in recent years he has introduced more personal elements—images of objects he has collected, including his father’s watch, a shadow of himself and references to his step-grandmother, Montez. He has also adapted imagery from many other artists, including Pablo Picasso, René Magritte, and Leonardo da Vinci. Throughout his career, Johns has recast his flags, targets, and other borrowed subjects, and in the process he has altered both the images and their potential meaning. His “face frame” compositions push beyond Picasso’s Cubist distortions of facial features, transforming the canvas itself into a mapped site of self-awareness.  

All works are from the GCMA permanent collection.