Friday, January 2, 2009

Learning from the Masters - A lesson Inspired by Jasper Johns

Jasper Johns

I love the work of Jasper Johns - there is a sense of energy and delight in making something old new again. Something familiar now seem more important and fresh at the same time.

You may be familiar with some of his work that has "targets" or his series of flag paintings. I chose the "Numbers in Color" as an inspiration for my middle school students.

What appears to be just a simple presentation of a series of numbers can be delved into much deeper.

From "Modern Art" by Hunter and Jacobson...

"...the artist once again revived the Cubists' use of letters and numbers to tether their art simultaneously to the realities of both the paintings' flat, fixed surface and the temporal, volumetric world outside...The serial also permitted him to build into his picture the element of time, that fourth dimension with which the Cubists so enriched their art, but with sequential numbers rather than multiple perspectives."

This piece opens the doors to many discussions - what is Cubism and Pop art? How do words
and numbers "work" in a painting? Is a painting just a surface or something beyond the surface? What is more important - content or paint application?

You can take these discussions and really try and answer them, or just be inspired by the idea of the grid and allow that to be the first step in understanding his art - by making your own version.

I gridded a large piece of mat board with squares to accommodate a "K". I used a vinyl sticker as my "k", but you can create you r own letter or series of numbers.

Then - have at it! Fill in the squares, paying attention to pattern, texture, color, energy, repetition. Strive to find a variety of ways to present the letter(s) and colors that you are using.

I also overlapped some other numbers and letters, just to make it more personal.

Jasper Johns is a fabulous artist and I hope you check out more of his work!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the head sup. It is incredible