Target By Jasper Johns Analysis

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Target by Jasper Johns stands 66 x 66 in the Art Institute of Chicago (Figure 1). The large size of the painting draws the viewer in. The scale also makes it so the viewer is forced to look at the painting, it is not something that can be ignored. Johns created this piece in 1961, and it was one of many works in his Target series. Target was his last major work in this series and it ended up being the largest as well. The painting is surrounded by a simple wooden frame. This painting was created by using encaustic paint. Encaustic painting is also known as hot wax painting, and it involves using heated beeswax to which colored pigments are added. This paint forms a surface of lumps and smears that gives Target a more worn look. Johns paints…show more content…
During this time Johns began painting motifs and transforming them into actual art. His most well-known motifs being the American flag and the target. Johns was interested in taking objects and icons that everyone knew and simplifying them to give them a personality of their own. He wanted to use the most ordinary objects and create a work that would evoke some type of expression. When asked about his reasoning behind picking symbols such as the flag and the target, Johns said that it made his work. Since these objects were already in the minds of people Johns did not have to design them, and thus had more room to work on different levels. Given the fact that these symbols were already well known, Johns did not have to create anything. Instead he could focus on using his painting style to relay the message that he wanted. John’s paintings of common symbols in culture led to him becoming well known as one of the first Pop Art artists. His work taking common symbols in popular culture and breaking them down to just the symbol itself with no added motive was very well…show more content…
It is well known that Johns and Rauschenburg were lovers for around six years. Both artists in different ways took ordinary elements from popular culture and turned it into art. The artists together are credited with leading the transition from Abstract Expressionism to Pop Art.3 Johns played a major role in paving the way for art that was not abstract expressionism. Johns lived in New York and was also largely influenced by the works of John Cage and Marcel Duchamp. These influences can be seen in Target as both these artists challenged what art was. Cage was well known for his 4’33” concert which is four minutes and thirty-three seconds of only the sounds in the environment. Cage does not touch the piano throughout this piece, so it challenges the very definition of what music is. On the other hand, Duchamp used ready-mades such as his famous “Fountain” and would put them on display as art. The idea that the art piece was just an ordinary object not even created by the artist was a direct challenge to the art world at the time. Similarly, Johns pushed the envelope by having common symbols, in this case a target, become pieces of

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