South Carolina Artist Jasper Johns Tuesday was presented with the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Johns is a former University of South Carolina student and resident of South Carolina and was honored today at the White House.
President Obama made this comment about Jasper Johns during the awards ceremony.
It has been noted that Jasper Johns’ work, playing off familiar images have transfixed people around the world. Historians will tell you that he helped usher in the artistic movements that would define the later half of the Twentieth Century. Many would say he is one of the greatest artists of our time. And yet, of his own efforts, he has simply said, “I am just trying to find a way to make pictures.”
Like great artists before him, Jasper Johns pushed the boundaries of what art could be and challenged others to test their own assumptions. He didn’t do it for fame. He didn’t do it for success, although he earned both.
Johns was born in Augusta, Georgia and was raised in Allendale, South Carolina. He becomes the first painter or sculptor in 34 years to receive the award.