Saturday, July 2, 2011

Saturday Salon: A Favorite Painting or Two...or Three...!

Jasper Johns (1930 - ), who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in February of this year - the first American artist to have done so since Alexander Calder in 1977 - is an artist whose work most of us are familiar with. We've all seen it or the heavy influence of it at one time or another - if not the actual Johns creation, then the secondary work done by illustrators and graphic designers inspired by Johns over the years. I immediately thought of Johns' use of classical iconography - his American Flag paintings, when I was deciding on what painter to focus on for Saturday Salon on this most American of holidays.

Last week, we had John Sloan, painter of daily American city life in the first half of the 20th century. Today we have Jasper Johns, a painter and print maker who, in his major work, makes use of iconic American symbols in an often complex new way. In this work, Johns asks us to look at those very familiar symbols with a fresh eye.

Today, Jasper Johns remains at the forefront of American art. His work is represented in almost all major museums. I was fortunate enough to have seen several of his pieces in NYC once upon a time at MOMA.

Please go here for a quick overview.

In-depth talk here about his work.

A view of some of Johns' work kept by MOMA.

Johns' work at the Whitney Museum.

Jasper Johns


  1. Love his work--especially the numbers, but the flags are fantastic too.

    Did you see the episode of The Simpsons which featured Jasper Johns? He was depicted as running around stealing all of the light bulbs--another of his iconic images. Very amusing.

    (On a completely unrelated note, I saw you mention Edith Layton a few weeks back. I wasn't able to comment then, but she's one of my very favorite Regency authors. However, I think a non-Regency, THE FIRE FLOWER, set in London just after the great fire of 1666, is her best.)

  2. Deb: That's so funny about the Simpsons. I don't normally watch the show, but I'd sure like to see this episode. I wonder if I can request just this one online somewhere?

    Oh, Edith Layton. I was so sad when she passed away. But at least we have her wonderful stories to remember her by.

    I do also like her short stories in which she is able to break your heart and mend it all within the space of a few words.

    I will definitely search out THE FIRE FLOWER, Deb. I'd never heard of it. Thanks so much. Something new of Layton's to read is a very good thing.

    Did you ever read THE DUKE'S WAGER - a Harlequin Regency unlike any other. In this one you actually wonder IF there will be a happy ending. It's such a sad, dry, wry, witty story. Heartbreaking in several respects.
    I loved it.

  3. I like Jasper John's flags and numbers. I know I took photos of his works the last time I visited MoMa.

    Have a happy 4th of July holiday weekend!

  4. Maybe it's time to do a Jasper Johns mosaic. :)

    You have a happy one, too, Pat!

  5. Yvette--Not to hi-jack the Jasper Johns thread, but I think I've read most of Layton's Regencies (and some of her others set in other historical eras, she even set a few in America) and I find that through almost all of them there is a vein of sadness, wistfulness, and regret (all of the characters have pasts that they have to come to terms with, especially the men) and many times you do wonder how Layton will manage to pull out a happy ending. She does, but there's often a little ambiguity there too.

  6. Don't worry about the 'hi-jack' thing I'm always ready to talk about Edith Layton or any other of my favorite authors.

    Yes, I agree with your assessment of Layton's characters. That's what so moves me about them. They are definitely not cardboard cut-outs even if and when they have all the 'Regency' accoutrement.

    There is one Christmas short story that is my favorite above all others but damn if I can remember the title. It has to do with a trip to the countryside by a jaded, wealthy man about town (aren't they all?)and a vision seen in a snow-globe. Just a lovely, lovely and very touching little love story.

  7. Yes--the snow globe--I remember that story! It was in a collection of Christmas-themed Regency short stories (I think it was the same one that had Mary Balogh's story of a child chimney sweep named Nick). I can't remember the title either, although it seems to me the hero's name was Cyril (although I'm possibly confusing that with another Christmas Regency).

  8. It was THE DUKE'S PROGRESS and it was in the 1989 edition of A Regency Christmas - Signet Regency Romance. And the Duke's name was, indeed, Cyril. I just looked through some of my old paperbacks and found it. Now to keep myself from immediately re-reading it until Christmas. I think I'll post about all these wonderful Holiday Regency short stories then.

    But I stumbled upon another of my favorites, of course. This one I will re-read shortly. It's not Christmas related, after all. Ha.

    PRECIOUS ROGUE by Mary Balogh. My favorite of her short stories.

    It's in the 1995 edition of DASHING AND DANGEROUS - a Signet Historical Romance.

    Both these books are anthologies of short stories.

    PRECIOUS ROGUE takes place during summer, coming full circle to our summetime holiday. Though NOT emphatically July 4th - since the story takes place in the English countryside. :)

    We're really rambling now. Ha!

  9. I love the third painting of the flag. It's wonderful.

  10. Yes, me too, Ryan. But for me, it's mostly all good. I love Jasper Johns' work. When you see it in reality, the vivaciousness of it knocks you out.


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