the pursuit of world class style in everyday life

Sunday, December 5, 2010

a johnsian conversation

we are so fond of jasper johns that we named our son after him.  perhaps more captivating than his work, i find, is his personality.  a conversation with johns can be so distinctive that people in the art world refer to it as "a johnsian conversation."  here's an illustration excerpted from the book by michael crichton.

The art critic Leo Steinberg has recorded the following conversation:  "i asked [Johns] about the type of numbers and letters he uses - coarse, standardized, unartistic - the type you associate with packing cases and grocery signs.

Q:  You nearly always use this same type.  Any particular reason?
A:  That's how the stencils come.
Q:  But if you preferred another typeface, would you think it improper to cut your own stencils?
A:  Of course not.
Q:  Then you really do like these best?
A:  Yes.

This answer is so self-evident that I wonder why I asked the question at all; ah, yes - because Johns would not see the obvious distinction between free choice and external necessity.  Let me try again:

Q:  Do you use these letter types because you like them or because that's how the stencils come?
A:  But that's what I like about them, that they come that way.

while i'm totally fascinated and amused by reading these conversations, i can imagine living with someone like this will make me jump out the window, very quickly.

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