Jasper Johns was born May 15, 1930 in Augusta, Georgia, and was raised in South Carolina. He briefly studied at the Parsons School of Design in 1949 after moving to New York. Johns emerged as a force in the American art scene in the late 1950s, with early work that combined a serious concern for the craft of painting with an everyday, almost absurd subject matter. His richly worked paintings of maps, flags and targets led the artistic community away from Abstract Expressionism and toward a new emphasis on the concrete. In the 1960s, while continuing his work with flags, numbers, target, and maps, Johns began to introduce some of his early sculptural ideas into painting. By the 1980s, Johns' work had changed once again with his later work was showing a strong interest in painting autobiographically.
In 1958, gallery owner Leo Castelli saw Johns' work for the first time while visiting the studio of Robert Rauschenberg. Castelli gave the 28-year-old Johns a show on the spot. At his first exhibition, the Museum of Modern Art purchased three pieces, proving that Johns would become a major force in the art world.