Map Painting by jasper johns; Map Art Print for sale
Map Painting by jasper johns; Map Art Print for sale

At first and quite possibly the second and third glance, nothing extraordinary catches your eye. The all too familiar color, subject matter and title cause you to wonder what exactly is it that makes the painting so valuable. But in 2014, it sold for $36 million. At only 12 by 18 inches, the piece does not grab attention because of its size. But painter and print maker Jasper Johns offers up a slice of history in his art. Born in 1930, the 85 year old artist enjoys intertwining Abstract Expressionism with the beauty of concrete subjects. Admitting he wanted to be an artist at a young age, Johns told PBS, “I think I thought it meant that I would be in a situation different from the one that I was in.” Perhaps, that’s what makes Johns’ artwork so appealing, his ability to illustrate so many different situations in such a simplistic, minimalist way.

Besides the bright orange, yellow, red and blue color palette, the first thing one notices in a Jasper Johns painting is the familiarity of the subject. Whether flags, targets, numbers, letters or maps, everyday items are almost always portrayed. They are comfortable and mysterious at the same time. “Map,” an oil on canvas depiction of the United States of America, draws viewers in deeper into the Johns reimagined depths. The map is both old and new at the same time, mimicking the feeling of a renovated home, vaguely familiar yet “new.” State names, stenciled onto the painted canvas are like cosmetic upgrades resulting in a kind of new value for the piece.

john3Whether intentional or not, Johns’ paintings seem to flow together, intangible ideals bound together by tangible creations. Guided by the “Map,” viewers often come across “Target with Four Faces,” another famous painting by the legendary artist. Like “Map,” this painting blends commonplace items with unexpected elements of surprise. Viewers, comforted by the fact that the bull’s eye, the goal, is within reach, are left wondering about the role of the blind faces. Regardless of the reason for the eyeless faces, the painting is a tangible illustration of people aiming for a target, whether their goal be mental, spiritual, physical, emotional or simply for sport. “False Start,” a colorful arrangement of colliding colors and words, reminds viewers that life is comprised of both the expected as well as the unexpected.

“My experience of life is that it’s very fragmented; certain kinds of things happen, and in another place, a different kind of thing occurs. I would like my work to have some kind of vivid indication of those differences.” Johns’ statement with PBS is exactly what happens in “False Start.” In some parts of the art, colors clash with other colors. In other parts, the word “yellow” is painted in blue on top of a red patch of paint. The mind, left to play puzzling games, undergoes false starts, constantly renegotiating and re-imagining that which seems normal. In the end however, the viewer’s mind, like life, grows stronger as it recognizes new patterns within familiar color schemes and words. In fact, that seems to be Jasper Johns’ message as an artist: pop culture reappropriated for social and personal growth. That is, in Johns’ world, simple flags, are reimagined as badges of personal patriotism, shooting targets become mirrors of life goals and mismatched colors depict the evolution of individual people.

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Born in Augusta, Georgia, Jasper Johns grew up extremely aware of difference whether it was race, class or gender. Those lessons have helped shape him into an amazing artist that uses and reimagines familiar things in unfamiliar ways. In fact, Johns readily admits that good artists must be willing to give up everything, especially the desire to be traditional. He has done that, leaving the University of South Carolina after studying for only a few months. Moving to New York, he embraced the different pace of life, craving even more the freedom of artistry. For him, his work is about “relations between seeing and knowing, seeing and saying and seeing and believing.” But these relations can only be accurately understood through new eyes, reimagining everyday items and everyday circumstances in new ways and that is worth far more than $36 million.

-Sharita Gilmore

Photos are a great way to retain most of our past memories, but to use them as a reference for painting is quite unique. Sure, painters use people and other objects to create their work, but using pictures is something that is unheard of. By using photographs and frozen film, an artist can take a portion of someone else’s work and then produce an entirely different piece with an entirely different purpose. Paintings that bring about an emotional response through the various techniques used are works that were created by an extremely talented individual. Kai Samuels-Davis, an American-based oil painter, is the extremely talented individual who makes these authentic and distorted paintings, with amazing details, that represents a universal language that we can all relate to.

kai3Samuels-Davis is originally from New York, but he has since moved to Los Angeles to indulge in his film studies. At the Art Center College of Design, he earned a graduate degree in fine art and video. This may explain why he usually incorporates some sort of film element into the majority of his oil paintings. Studying film and its properties has given the painter several tools that has helped him create an emotional bond between the paintings and his audience. The inspirations that the artist gains from the cinematic world are put into his paintings and give the audience a sense of desire and motivation. Whether the painting is showing the viewers a life-like individual or wilted flowers, the artist somehow makes the beautiful paintings look so effortless.

Samuels-Davis pushes the boundaries of the art by creating realistic-looking images. His effortless paintings are the reason that so many people are drawn to his work. When glancing at the canvas, it looks as if someone just used a paintbrush to gently stroke the surface. The brushstrokes are shown with extreme detail, which gives the painting a natural look. The brushstrokes, while crucial to his work, are not the only apparent factor for him when creating his art. Shading is something that is of extreme importance to painters, but Samuels-Davis takes it a step further. While the majority of painters use lines and borders to create objects and shapes, Samuels-Davis uses darker and lighter shading. The shades and brushstrokes of his work create more emotion that erupts from the painting and give us something to ponder.

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Samuels-Davis’ oil paintings are an art that appeals to viewers by showing us a stop motion film depiction. Through images of fashion photography and episodes of silent films, the artist is able to show his viewers a combination of film and painting. He refers photographs of lifeless objects, as well as people, so that he has an idea of what he wants his finished product to resemble. With this, he can create an unfamiliar, yet exciting experience for his viewers. We, in turn, are drawn to the emotions that pour from these pictures and we are itching to know about the events surrounding the painting. By bringing together several arts and techniques, the painter is giving us something that is new to our taste buds, and I for one, really enjoy it.

Over the past year, the artist has been making his subjects with contorted faces. The Forgotten II, a oil painting he created last year, shows us a bearded man with blue eyes and he seems to be staring intently at something. The painting has a lot of layers of different shades and colors, which has brought me to think that this painting may be more than just a picture of a thinking man. In its previous installment, The Forgotten I, the same elements that were placed in the sequel were also placed in its original. In the first one, we are painted the picture of a woman, similar to the man, who is troubled by something, hence the way her eyes are drawn. These two images express rather a dark mood.

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The Forgotten I and The Forgotten II are the artist’s latest paintings. It’s a mystery to why he would contort the images in any way, but I feel that they are pieces that are meant to give to us something different than his hyper realistic paintings. While these paintings are amazingly detailed, my personal preference has to be his authentic-looking paintings. In The Other Field I, we are shown a person laying down in an area that has nothing present, at least from the audience’s perspective. It’s a simple painting, but the viewer is curious as to what is in this world, and why is this single person laying down. It intrigues us to the point where we want to know more about everything that’s going on here.

-Te’Ron Adams

david3Art galleries aren’t the only places where art is showcased. The innumerable places one can run across a great piece is mind blowing. Some places where you might expect to see fine art are inside of museums and historic buildings. Other places that are not as conventional, are typically tied to street art. These pieces are scattered about on the outside of train cars, and sometimes painted on the sides of buildings. Muralist, David Walker has been fortunate enough to have his work displayed in some of these unconventional places, and all over the world.

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