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Three Flags

1958

Jasper Johns, Three Flags, 1958. Encaustic on canvas, 30 7/8 × 45 1/2 × 5 in. (78.4 × 115.6 × 12.7 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; 50th Anniversary Gift of the Gilman Foundation Inc., The Lauder Foundation, A. Alfred Taubman, Laura-Lee Whittier Woods, and purchase  80.32  On view in the museum  On view in the museum
Art © Jasper Johns / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Jasper Johns has made paintings of ordinary objects and symbols such as flags, targets, maps, numbers, and the alphabet. He chose these familiar subjects because he was interested in how their meaning might change when they are taken out of their usual role or place. Here, Johns transformed the way we usually see a flag. Instead of painting a picture of a flag flying from a pole and blowing in the breeze, the flat pattern of stars and stripes is portrayed on three different-sized canvases. By showing the flag in this way, Johns asks us to take a new look at an everyday object and to question what we see.

“Take an object. Do something to it. Do something else to it.”

—Jasper Johns

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Jasper Johns, Three Flags, 1958
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