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Jasper Johns. Privileged Information

ISBN: 9780500017364

Fusing criticism and biography, this work offers insight into the life and work of America's pre-eminent living artist. Assigned to write a review of Jasper Johns's "The Seasons", a series of paintings that would be acclaimed at the 1988 Venice Biennale, Jill Johnston became intrigued by a mysterious detail in each of these paintings which is designed to look like a jigsaw puzzle piece. She found the source of this detail in Grunewald's 16th-century masterpiece, the "Isenheim Alterpiece" and it was this image, of a grotesquely diseased and dying man, that helped Johnston unlock an autobiographical core in Johns's work. Whereas most critics have been impressed by the formal qualities of Johns's paintings, Johnston discovers riches of personal meaning throughout his art. She charts the evolution of Johns's artistic, personal and public identities, from his family roots in South Carolina though to the early 1950s when Johns, together with Rauschenberg, Cunningham and Cage, overturned assumtions about modern art, dance, music and theatre. She interviewed many figures associated with Johns and had several enigmatic encounters with Johns himself.

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