Combination, Collaboration and Creation: The Case of Jasper Johns
journal contributionposted on 2017-05-22, 05:33 authored by Peter Murphy
Great art is marked by emphatic individual styles. From Titian to Jasper Johns, Van Gogh to Frank Stella, the individuality of major works of art and leading visual artists is unmistakable. We do not need to be told that a painting is by the hand of Rembrandt or Jackson Pollock. We can see that at a glance. The individual style of a great artist is difficult to miss. Such styles can be copied, parodied and caricatured. The irony is that what is most individual is also most generic. It translates easily into a type that can be imitated. The paradox of great art is that it is the imitable inimitable. That paradox is further underscored by the fact that such art, individualised as it is, is more often than not deeply shaped by collaboration. That which is most emphatically individual frequently bears the impress of the collective milieu, relationships and projects that populate the background experience of the working artist. Serious artists without question are self-possessed. They are driven by singular visions of what to create and how to create.