Jasper Johns was born in 1930 in Georgia and grew up in South Carolina. He attended the University of South Carolina for one year, then moved to New York City to pursue a career as an artist. He met the artist Robert Rauschenberg, the composer John Cage and the modern dancer Merce Cunningham in 1954, and the same year began a series of paintings based on the American flag, exhibiting them in 1958 at the Leo Castelli Gallery.
From the 1950’s into the 1960’s, Johns made paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints that presented commonplace, two-dimensional objects with absolute objectivity and precision so that the painting ceases to be a reproduction of the object but becomes the object itself. Flags, targets, number sequences, letters of the alphabet, and maps were painted in either bright colors of red, blue, yellow, orange and green, or monochrome lead gray. Johns’ works were a radical departure from the extreme emotionalism of the Abstract Expressionists and in their banality and rejection of emotional expression prepared the way for Pop Art.