Art Works Blog

Life According to Jasper Johns

Perhaps no American artist is more associated with the U.S. flag than Pop Art icon Jasper Johns. Painter, sculptor, and printmaker, Johns used the flag as well as other American symbols as a springboard for his colorful meditations on what it means to be an American. In honor of Flag Day, here’s Johns on painting, art, and well, life.

Jasper Johns quote across photo of person in button down shirt with paint-covered hands holding pencil and paintbrush

"To be an artist you have to give up everything including the desire to be a good artist." — Jasper Johns

Jasper Johns quote with image of a few watercolor pots and paintbrushes

"I am not big on perfection." — Jasper Johns

Jasper Johns quote over a photo of a series of highways

"As one gets older one sees many more paths that could be taken. Artists sense within their own work that kind of swelling of possibilities, which may seem a confusion or a freedom." — Jasper Johns

Jasper Johns quote over image of a group of people hiking up a hill

"Every artist feels alone and isolated. Friends are very important in terms of all sorts of definitions of oneself." — Jasper Johns

Jasper Johns quote over photo of shadow of man's head against ochre colored boards

"I often find that having an idea in my head prevents me from doing something else. Working is therefore a way of getting rid of an idea." — Jasper Johns

Jasper Johns quotes laid over photo of large paintbrushes covered with multicolored paint

"I think that one wants from a painting a sense of life. The final suggestion, the final statement, has to be not a deliberate statement but a helpless statement. It has to be what you can't avoid saying." — Jasper Johns

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