This beautifully illustrated and profoundly original volume of essays by the New York poet and critic John Yau mounts one of the most eloquent defenses of the art and vision of Jasper Johns (*1930) ever written – going well past tired and traditional Formalist readings of the artist's work to propose a completely new way of reading them: One that is intensely human.
This volume not only makes many aspects of the artist's work accessible for the first time, but also reveals an emotional tenor to the man whom so many critics have characterized, wrongly, according to Yau, as aloof or hermetic. Yau traces the ways that the artist's work conveys a connection to the common experience –a “sense of life“ that encompasses thoughts, memory, consumption, excretion, life, death, time and mortality. His readings of the works are broadened by statements from conversations between the poet and artist that have taken place over the course of the last 30 years. Lending to this sense of intimacy, many of the works collected in this volume come directly from the artist's studio or his private collection, and have rarely been reproduced before.