Jasper Johns (born May 15, 1930) is an American painter, sculptor, and printmaker whose contributions to Abstract Expressionism, Pop art, and Neo-Dada led his works to have made the list of most expensive artworks by living artists. His best known works include Flag Piece (1954-55), created just two years after he was discharged from the US army, and Target with Plaster Casts (1955), a piece thought to have perhaps had deeply personal meaning for Johns who struggled as a gay man living in the homophobic and persecutory era of Senator Joseph McCarthy.
Though Johns studied briefly at both the University of South Carolina and a New York art school, he is considered to be a self-taught artist. Johns was famously involved with painter Robert Rauschenberg who occupied the upstairs unit of John’s apartment building. It was Rauschenberg’s studio visit with art dealer Leo Castelli that led to Johns’ meteoric rise to fame, as Castelli by chance wound up in Johns’ apartment directly below. Castelli immediately signed Johns, leading him to become one of America’s most successful living artists.