From Jasper Johns:
When Johns said, in a much-quoted comment, "I didn't want my work to be an exposure of my feelings," he was really divorcing himself from the tenets of Abstract Expressionism, where the point of the work was to make some statement of subjective emotion. Johns never had this goal.
Quite the reverse: when Johns first received public attention, he refused to be drawn into a critical dialogue. In 1958, he told a Newsweek interviewer, "I have no ideas about what the painting imply about the world. I don't think that's a painter's business. He just paints paintings without a conscious reason."
This is an attitude Johns would consistently express all his working life; more than two decades later he said, "My (work) has no conscious goal in relation to the viewer."
Of course, such statements can be viewed as disingenuous; Johns is a highly self-aware painter. And over the years, Johns has become much less reticent to speak about his work. Yet his lifelong tendency has been to direct attention way from himself, and toward the work - to let the work "speak" for itself. As Nan Rosenthal observed, "Jasper is much too intelligent to think that a piece of art means what it means. Nor does he believe in telling you what it means because for him, meaning is always in a state of flux."