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  #1  
Old 12-02-2012, 08:21 PM
astro astro is offline
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Is Jasper Johns a more important 20th Century artist than Norman Rockwell?

Just curious.
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  #2  
Old 12-02-2012, 08:54 PM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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In the art world, Rockwell isn't considered important at all. That a flaw in the art world's thinking, but Johns influenced more artists than Rockwell, and is far more appreciated in art circles, so he's more important.
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  #3  
Old 12-02-2012, 09:12 PM
dropzone dropzone is offline
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Originally Posted by astro View Post
Is Jasper Johns a more important 20th Century artist than Norman Rockwell?
Yes.

Importance in art is often measured by how influential an artist was. Rockwell was the last of the great illustrators, following the likes of NC Wyeth and Howard Pyle. Ignore people who dismiss them as mere commercial artists; they were really awful good at what they did, both technically and stylistically. But nobody was influenced by Rockwell because the market for his art died before he did.

Johns, OTOH, was highly influential and was, for my money, one of the few to come out of Pop Art whose paintings had some depth. Plus, he was on The Simpsons. "Yoink!"
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Old 12-02-2012, 09:18 PM
dropzone dropzone is offline
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FTR, Wife adores Rockwell because the people in his paintings have no shadows. I thought that was because he painted them and the backgrounds individually and there are no shadows because a composite looks like hell if everything has a different light source, but I'm not the one with the Art History degree.
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  #5  
Old 12-02-2012, 09:34 PM
Slow Moving Vehicle Slow Moving Vehicle is offline
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On the other hand, Rockwell is far more important culturally - his art is part of the American mythos, our idealized view of who we are. Most Americans have a very distinct set of ideas evoked by the phrase "Rockwell Christmas" or a "Norman Rockwell town".
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  #6  
Old 12-02-2012, 09:36 PM
Chronos Chronos is online now
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I don't even know who Jasper Johns is, so he certainly never influenced me.
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  #7  
Old 12-03-2012, 11:52 AM
3:20:59 or bust 3:20:59 or bust is offline
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The Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento has an exhibit right now on Rockwell. He did some great work, and some great work that wasn't much seen. The problem with Rockwell is 90% of the people that know his work know it from the covers of the Post or Look, and they've only seen it magazine cover size. Some of those paintings are quite impressive when seen full size.

I know I was very impressed with "A Problem We All Live With" in full size, which is at Crocker.
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  #8  
Old 12-03-2012, 02:17 PM
astorian astorian is online now
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In a way, that's like asking, "Is John Cage a more important composer than Irving Berlin."

The answer is, "Important how? Important to whom?"

Within academia, John Cage is far more studied, acclaimed and influential than Irving Berlin. Does that make him more important? A matter of perspective, I guess. Berlin made waaaay more money, and wrote songs that tens of millions of people still sing today. EVERYBODY knows "White Christmas," but hardly anybody outside academia could name any Cage pieces.

Similarly, within the art world, most people regard Johns as a genius and Rockwell as a bit of a campy joke. On the other hand, Rockwell had millons of admirers, and most people would immediately recognize many of Rockwell's paintings, while most people don't know who Jasper Johns is and couldn't name any of his paintings (thought many could GUESS it's a Johns piece if there's a flag in it).

You tell us how you define importance, and judge accordingly.

For what it's worth, Rockwell himself knew his standing in the more highbrow art world, and he wasn't happy about it. Sure, he enjoyed the money and popularity he work brought him, but he used to say, "People always tell me 'I don't know anything about art, but I love your work.' Occasionally, it would be nice to hear 'I know a LOT about art, and I love your work.'"

Last edited by astorian; 12-03-2012 at 02:20 PM..
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  #9  
Old 12-03-2012, 05:00 PM
Slithy Tove Slithy Tove is offline
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Somehow Rockwell's Freedom from Want speaks to me more than anything Johns ever did. The whole family gathered for the holiday, each of them with a tumblerful of straight vodka so as to get through the Godamn thing...
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  #10  
Old 12-04-2012, 08:32 AM
Nunzio Tavulari Nunzio Tavulari is offline
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Thomas Kinkade's artwork is in millions of homes; many more than Rockwell. He's made more money as well. Therefore, by royal decree, I crown Kinkade as the most awesome of all artists. Except for the guy who did that painting of Jesus.
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  #11  
Old 12-04-2012, 09:38 AM
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Was Eduoard Manet a more important 19th century artist than Currier or Ives?

I think time will amply demonstrate that Johns will be more important in telling the story of 'why art looks like it looks in the 22nd century.'
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  #12  
Old 12-04-2012, 05:33 PM
Chronos Chronos is online now
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OK, I finally got curious enough to Google Jasper Johns. I recognize one or two of the pieces, like "Three Flags", but most of it just strikes me as bland and unimaginative. Maybe people will be studying him in art history classes two centuries hence, but at the same time people will still be studying Rockwell in just-plain-history classes.
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  #13  
Old 12-04-2012, 07:03 PM
Jormungandr Jormungandr is offline
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I never heard of him either and had to do a search. Now, I have to ask why do you think he's more important because I wasn't impressed by his work. Rockwell touched people on an emotional level. Johns seems eh to me and makes me think I'm in the wrong business.
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  #14  
Old 12-05-2012, 03:46 PM
jordanr2 jordanr2 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RealityChuck View Post
In the art world, Rockwell isn't considered important at all.
I'm not sure that this is necessarily true. He's certainly not dismissed in the same way as someone like Thomas Kinkade - in fact, the notion that some of his work was indeed sentimental but that he was a great illustrator and deft social critic seems to have become pretty commonplace.

I just did a quick JSTOR search for scholarly criticism of Rockwell, which brought up hundreds of results, including articles like "Norman Rockwell and the Fashioning of American Masculinity." A Hudson Review article from 2002 says that "we of the anti-Rockwell camp are, if not a verifiable minority these days, an emasculated bunch," going on to discuss "the new books by reputable writers, the scholarly attention, the museum exhibitions." The idea that elitist art snobs unilaterally dismiss Rockwell's work doesn't seem to me to hold water: there may be some vociferous ones who feel that way, but I don't think it can be fairly said that he "isn't considered important at all."

Last edited by jordanr2; 12-05-2012 at 03:47 PM..
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  #15  
Old 12-05-2012, 04:02 PM
WordMan WordMan is offline
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One mythologized The American Way of Life, beautifully.

One had a vision that challenged prevailing art rules of the time, influencing the direction of Fine Art at first, but that spread to Pop Art and pop culture.

Which accomplishment is "more important"?
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  #16  
Old 12-06-2012, 08:44 AM
Jormungandr Jormungandr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WordMan View Post

One had a vision that challenged prevailing art rules of the time, influencing the direction of Fine Art at first, but that spread to Pop Art and pop culture.
Ok, since I and possibly many others don't know much on Johns, can you provide some background and explanation as to how? I see a flag painting, a painting with 4 flags, a map of the U.S. I'm seeing his art, but obviously not seeing what it meant through this Internet medium as I would if it I were viewing it in a museum or exhibit. So, you have to enlighten me.
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  #17  
Old 12-06-2012, 09:44 AM
WordMan WordMan is offline
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I am at work and can't spend my time researching links. But if you read the wiki and Google images, you will see a lot. Here are a few observations:

- Johns used existing symbols - flags, maps and targets - often. This enabled him to build on and redirect the various connotations we associate with those symbols - Flags as national symbols, etc. His work broadened the scope of the question "what can be considered art?" through his inclusion of common symbols and objects in a way that predated and influence Pop Art.

- Johns focused on the physical surface of the painting - the Flag paintings aren't paintings - they are encaustics, where colored wax is used in combo with other materials. This brought the attention to the flat 2-dimensional space of the painting and the textured materials fused to it. So, say, whereas Rockwell wanted you to step past the fact that you are looking at a "painting" (he wanted you to see the image represented, with a story, simulated 3D depth to look representational, etc.), Johns wanted you to look at the painting as an abstract 2D surface.

- Johns focused on patterns - his paintings move your eyes around using repetitive patterns - the glimmers of newsprint underlying the encaustic; his use of letters and patterns. This is part of what was happening in art at the time with folks like Pollock and Rothko, who were trying to connect with viewers in a way that was very different vs. representational art trying to convey a statement with realistic figures and an illustrative story.

So Johns was part of a group of artists looking to make statements with art - and this approach influenced a lot of the art coming after it. And since his approach - interesting surfaces that exploit existing symbols and repetitive patterns - can be accessed easily, it has really influenced pop culture, in line with how Warhol, Lichtenstein and others did the same with Pop Art and their language of everyday items on flat silk screens.

My $.02. I am sure others have more to add and embellish here...

Last edited by WordMan; 12-06-2012 at 09:46 AM..
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  #18  
Old 12-06-2012, 04:46 PM
Chronos Chronos is online now
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Would this imply, then, that Johns' work doesn't come through well in a medium like a computer screen? If so, then I'll withhold my judgment until I've seen it in person. Though I still say that Rockwell was great for his social commentary, even if he hasn't been influential in art circles.
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  #19  
Old 12-06-2012, 06:08 PM
WordMan WordMan is offline
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Would this imply, then, that Johns' work doesn't come through well in a medium like a computer screen? If so, then I'll withhold my judgment until I've seen it in person. Though I still say that Rockwell was great for his social commentary, even if he hasn't been influential in art circles.
Oh yeah, that's exactly what I mean. Really requires experiencing it in person - online views reduce Johns to the pop culture of his work. It's really visually interesting in person. It's not about size the way Pollock or Rothko is - their size is part of their impact, in a really cool, good way. With Johns it's about the texture and craft of the work - it really draws you in.
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  #20  
Old 12-06-2012, 09:55 PM
Horatio Hellpop Horatio Hellpop is offline
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I don't approve of the demarcation between Fine Art and Commercial Art, but I recognize that it's there, and that Rockwell is on one side of it and Johns is on the other side. I'm not sure I'd want to participate in a "Jasper Johns Christmas," as it might involve a lot of rough trade and glory holes. However you want to measure importance or impact, I suspect Rockwell has more, but this is a classic example of apples vs. oranges.

A better match-up might be Thomas Kinkade and Joan Miro. Kinkade was all technique and no soul, and was simply not a respected figure anywhere in the art world, although yokels bought enough of his stuff to keep him in Velveeta and Charles Shaw Red until his dying day (I suspect, but have no way of knowing for sure, that all the speculators who bought his stuff lost money on the deal, so money may actually be a fair way of comparing the works of the two). Miro, a classic example of "My grandkid could do better than that, and he's four!" is firmly lodged in the pantheon of great artists. Deal with it.
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  #21  
Old 12-06-2012, 10:14 PM
dropzone dropzone is offline
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Originally Posted by WordMan View Post
With Johns it's about the texture and craft of the work - it really draws you in.
If you can get really close you can get lost in Johns' brush strokes, just as with Pollock it is the size, shape, and placement of every "random" (he did sweeten his paintings) dot.
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  #22  
Old 12-07-2012, 02:01 PM
Docta G Docta G is offline
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Originally Posted by astro View Post
Just curious.
Johns' work doesn't make me want to hurl.
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  #23  
Old 12-07-2012, 02:18 PM
I Made French Toast For You I Made French Toast For You is offline
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Originally Posted by Docta G View Post
Johns' work doesn't make me want to hurl.
If you look up "saccharine" in the dictionary, you'll see a picture of Norman Rockwell. He's an artist, and culturally important -- but Johns is more relevant to art, IMHO.
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  #24  
Old 12-07-2012, 02:22 PM
WordMan WordMan is offline
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Originally Posted by I Made French Toast For You View Post
If you look up "saccharine" in the dictionary, you'll see a picture of Norman Rockwell. He's an artist, and culturally important -- but Johns is more relevant to art, IMHO.
I can see "sentimental" or "earnest" for Rockwell, but not saccharine. He painted straight up, representational, narrative art - but he was damn good at it.
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  #25  
Old 12-07-2012, 03:02 PM
I Made French Toast For You I Made French Toast For You is offline
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I can see "sentimental" or "earnest" for Rockwell, but not saccharine. He painted straight up, representational, narrative art - but he was damn good at it.
I guess it depends on your frame of reference. In my mind, Edward Hopper is the epitome of 20th century American representational art. In comparison, Rockwell absolutely seems overly sweet and romantic and chaste. But compared to Kinkade he looks as badass as Francis Bacon.

I wonder if Grant Wood and his buddies aren't a closer fit for Rockwell.
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  #26  
Old 12-07-2012, 03:22 PM
Slithy Tove Slithy Tove is offline
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Grant Wood, a deeply closeted homosexual in mid-20th c. Iowa (where they barely tollerated heterosexuals), and Norman Rockwell, who suffered from depression and whose wife also was herself so depressed that she self-medicated with alcohol and eventually died of heart failure after electroshock therapy.
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  #27  
Old 12-07-2012, 03:54 PM
suranyi suranyi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by I Made French Toast For You View Post
If you look up "saccharine" in the dictionary, you'll see a picture of Norman Rockwell. He's an artist, and culturally important -- but Johns is more relevant to art, IMHO.
I don't know that saccharine is really the right word. Rockwell's paintings often created strong emotions in the viewer, and they could be sad as well as happy. In later years his paintings become overtly political. "The Problem We All Live With," one of his most famous from that period, has already been mentioned. Here's another one, "Southern Justice":

http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/norm...ssissippi-1965
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  #28  
Old 12-07-2012, 10:20 PM
Baal Houtham Baal Houtham is offline
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I have opinions. My main opinion on art is "fuck importance." For the past 40 years anything can be called art -- there are no significant barriers to break and all new "insights" are of the piddling variety.

There's still vitality in motion pictures, architecture, and (probably) music. But gallery art is as unimportant as 14th century egg temperas after the renaissance, perspective and oil painting hit. Yeah, there's some nice stuff, but really nothing to get excited about.

I'm glad there's still fine art; the interplay of commercial art and fine art helps keep new styles popping up. But important? Nah. There's just stuff you like and stuff you don't like.
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  #29  
Old 12-07-2012, 10:59 PM
dropzone dropzone is offline
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No, it's the stuff I like and the unutterable crap you like.
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