Art in the sixties

Archie Loss (
Thu, 18 Jan 1996 08:25:58 -0500

In any list of major artists of the decade Jasper Johns should be included.
His work grows directly out of abstract expressionism (the New York School
of the fifties) but has a formalist emphasis that most of that work lacks.
(It compares well, however, with the work of Robert Motherwell, which is
also formalist in some ways yet highly inventive and often very political.)
While Johns for the most part eschews politics, his flag series of the early
sixties--which includes heavily impastoed paintings and also graphic
work--uses a major icon of the day in surprising and unusual ways. For the
most part, I would say these lack any special significance (part of what
Johns does in the series is to take something usually charged with some
special meaning and neutralize it), but the fact remains that he chose such
an emblem at approximately the same time Warhol, Lichtenstein, and others
began working with more obvious symbols from the popular culture landscape.
At any rate, Johns is a first-rate artist of great importance to American
art who did major work in the sixties.

Archie Loss