The self-imposed solitude at the core of Johns's life is more apparent in St. Martin. James Meyer, his studio assistant in Connecticut, comes down at the start of Johns's stay each year, which usually lasts from just before Christmas to March; he helps Johns set up the studio, stretch canvases, and so forth, but then he leaves, and Johns is alone in the house. Friends come for brief visits--he has a guest house--but you sense that he is perfectly comfortable with no one around. Although he keeps to no regular schedule, he gets up early and usually works for several hours every day. For recreation, he swims in his pool, or he gardens. The round, slatted-wood table in the living room is piled with books that people have sent him: "Kafka on the Shore," by Haruki Murakami; "The Liberal Imagination," by Lionel Trilling; "The Complete Poems of Ted Berrigan"; "Cézanne and the Eternal Feminine," by Wayne Anderson. He often wakes during the night and reads.
The New Yorker, December 11, 2006