Art: Pictures at an Inhibition

Jasper Johns' New York retrospective

Jasper Johns, considered by many people the greatest artist at work in America, has been in the public eye for not quite 20 years. It seems longer. No art career pupated more quickly. Johns appeared in 1958 at the Leo Castelli Gallery, a reclusive young Southerner from Augusta, Ga., who had been surviving in virtual isolation in Manhattan since 1952. With his paintings of targets and of the American flag, he landed on point, in the spot, at centerstage: the Museum of Modern Art bought three paintings from that...

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