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Figuring Jasper Johns

Author: Fred Orton
Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1994.
Series: Essays in art and culture.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
The matter of meaning, for painter and viewer alike, is crucial to this book, a deeply felt and richly considered attempt to come to terms with one of the most challenging artists of our day. An illuminating look at an enigmatic painter, Figuring Jasper Johns also provides a way of approaching American art of the 1950s and 1960s.
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Genre/Form: Criticism, interpretation, etc
Additional Physical Format: Online version:
Orton, Fred.
Figuring Jasper Johns.
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1994
(OCoLC)621236422
Named Person: Jasper Johns; Jasper Johns; Jasper Johns; Jasper Johns; Jasper Johns; Jasper Johns
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Fred Orton
ISBN: 067430117X 9780674301177 0674301188 9780674301184
OCLC Number: 30516619
Description: 248 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 25 cm.
Contents: Beginnings --
Present, the Scene of My Selves, the Occasion of these Ruses --
A Different Kind of Beginning --
Figuring Jasper Johns.
Series Title: Essays in art and culture.
Responsibility: Fred Orton.

Abstract:

The matter of meaning, for painter and viewer alike, is crucial to this book, a deeply felt and richly considered attempt to come to terms with one of the most challenging artists of our day. An illuminating look at an enigmatic painter, Figuring Jasper Johns also provides a way of approaching American art of the 1950s and 1960s.

Fred Orton's reading of John's oeuvre focuses on three key works - Untitled (1972), Flag (1954-55), and Painted Bronze (1960). Adroitly combining formal theoretical analyses and historical reflection, Orton explores each painting until the distinction between "picture" and "context" dissolves and his subject appears in a wholly new frame. Here we see how Johns's work makes use of the modernist opposition between surface and subject, how it manifests both relatively private and relatively public meanings, and how it develops a self-consciously figurative visual language. With reference to ideas in contemporary critical theory, Orton considers Johns's work as allegory and assesses the value and effect of doing so.

A practical demonstration of how theory can work to generate new interpretations and unsettle old ones (some of them the product of Johns's own mythologizing), this book offers the clearest and most penetrating picture yet of Jasper Johns and in the process contributes considerably to the continuing rethinking of art history.

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