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Jasper Johns

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It all began with my painting a picture of an American flag. Using this design took care of a great deal for me because I didn’t have to design it. So I want on to similar things like the targets things the mind already knows. That gave me room to work on other levels. For instance, I’ve always thought of a painting as a surfqace; painting it in one color made this very clear.. ..A picture ought to be looked at the same way you look at a radiator.
His heart belong to DADA, Time 73, 4 May, 1959: 58; as quoted in Jasper Johns, Writings, sketchbook Notes, Interviews, ed. Kirk Varnedoe, Moma New York, 1996, p. 82

Jasper Johns

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I didn’t even know that there was art until I left Texas when I was eighteen. The only painting I knew (and I didn’t know it was a ‘painting’ until much later) was Hope, the woman sitting on the globe with.. ,that green you only get in reproductions! I think that negates the idea of a painter’s relation to official – old master art. It was neutral ground – that one picture – I responded to visual things.. ..Hope (the painter, fh) was just sort of visual thing there, not art.

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I don’t like that word 'finish'. When something is finished, that means it’s dead, doesn’t it? I believe in everlastingness. I never finish a painting – I just stop working on it for a while. I like painting because it’s something I never come to the end of. Sometimes I paint a picture, then I paint it all out. Sometimes I’m working on fifteen or twenty pictures at the same time. I do that because I want to – because I like to change my mind so often. The thing to do is always to keep starting to paint, never finishing painting.(1947)

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I feel now if I think of it, it will come out in the painting. In other words, if I want to make the whole painting look like a bottle, like a lot of bottles - for instance maybe the end of the day, when everything is very light, but not in sunlight necessarily - and so if I have this image of this bottle and if I really think about it, it will come out in the painting. That doesn’t mean that people notice a bottle, but I know when I succeed in it – then the painting would have this.

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