Jasper Johns Quotes

To be an artist you have to give up everything, including the desire to be a good artist.”
- Jasper Johns

Whatever I do seems artificial and false, to me.”
- Jasper Johns

The thing is, if you believe in the unconscious - and I do - there's room for all kinds of possibilities that I don't know how you prove one way or another.”
- Jasper Johns

One works without thinking how to work.”
- Jasper Johns

Sometimes I see it and then paint it. Other times I paint it and then see it. Both are impure situations, and I prefer neither.”
- Jasper Johns

Most of the power of painting comes through the manipulation of space... but I don't understand that.”
- Jasper Johns

I often find that having an idea in my head prevents me from doing something else. Working is therefore a way of getting rid of an idea.”
- Jasper Johns

I don't know how to organise thoughts. I don't know how to have thoughts.”
- Jasper Johns

I have no ideas about what the paintings imply about the world. I don't think that's a painter's business. He just paints paintings without a conscious reason.”
- Jasper Johns

As one gets older one sees many more paths that could be taken. Artists sense within their own work that kind of swelling of possibilities, which may seem a freedom or a confusion.”
- Jasper Johns

I assumed that everything would lead to complete failure, but I decided that didn't matter that would be my life. ”
- Jasper Johns

I don't want my work to be an exposure of my feelings. ”
- Jasper Johns

Old art offers just as good a criticism of new art as new art offers of old. ”
- Jasper Johns

My experience with life is that it's very fragmented. In one place certain kinds of thing occur, and in another place a different kind of thing occurs. I would like my work to have some vivid indication of those differences. I guess, in painting, it would amount to different kinds of space being represented in it.”
- Jasper Johns

In my early work, I tried to hide my personality, my psychological state, my emotions. This was partly due to my feelings about myself and party due to my feelings about painting at the time. I sort of stuck to my guns for a while but eventually it seemed like a losing battle. Finally one must simply drop the reserve.”
- Jasper Johns

Art is either a complaint or appeasement.”
- Jasper Johns

I think that one wants from a painting a sense of life. The final suggestion, the final statement, has to be not a deliberate statement but a helpless statement. It has to be what you can't avoid saying.”
- Jasper Johns

A not complete unit or a new unit. The elements in the 3 parts should neither fit nor not fit together. One would like not to be led. Avoid the idea of a puzzle which could be solved. Remove the signs of thought. It is not thought which needs showing.”
- Jasper Johns

I'm not sure what 'coming out right' means. It often means that what you do holds a kind of energy that you wouldn't just put there, that comes about through grace of some sort.”
- Jasper Johns

Art is much less important than life, but what a poor life without it.”
- Jasper Johns