The Whitney's Collection: Selections from 1900 to 1965

Solo en Inglès

Hear about the artists and artworks in this exhibition on this kid-friendly guide, made specially for kids 6–10 years old.

Jasper Johns, Three Flags, 1958

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Mark Joshua Epstein: This is a painting called Three Flags that was made in 1958, by the artist Jasper Johns.

Student 1: It looks like since there are a lot of layers of the American flag, maybe it’s showing that there are a lot of different kinds of people and things in America.

Student 2: Well, first it looks like an optical illusion to me because it’s big, small, and then smaller.

Student 3: I think the artist had this idea, like I’m going to make something with the American flag. They just thought it would look cool, they just stacked a couple of American flags on top of each other. I don’t think it has an actual meaning.

Mark Joshua Epstein: Jasper Johns talked about the American flag as something we see, but that we don’t look at. What do you think he meant?

Student 1: Well, we just kind of just take it for granted. Oh! We see that every day.

Student 2: I think they layered it to make it interesting, so you actually look at it closely and read what the sign says and learn about it and actually get into it, rather than just being oh! that’s the American flag. Next picture.

Three American flags on top of each other.

Mark Joshua Epstein: This is a painting called Three Flags that was made in 1958, by the artist Jasper Johns.

Student 1: It looks like since there are a lot of layers of the American flag, maybe it’s showing that there are a lot of different kinds of people and things in America.

Student 2: Well, first it looks like an optical illusion to me because it’s big, small, and then smaller.

Student 3: I think the artist had this idea, like I’m going to make something with the American flag. They just thought it would look cool, they just stacked a couple of American flags on top of each other. I don’t think it has an actual meaning.

Mark Joshua Epstein: Jasper Johns talked about the American flag as something we see, but that we don’t look at. What do you think he meant?

Student 1: Well, we just kind of just take it for granted. Oh! We see that every day.

Student 2: I think they layered it to make it interesting, so you actually look at it closely and read what the sign says and learn about it and actually get into it, rather than just being oh! that’s the American flag. Next picture.


Jasper Johns, Three Flags, 1958. Encaustic on canvas, 30 5/8 x 45 1/2 x 4 5/8 in. (77.8 x 115.6 x 11.7 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Gilman Foundation, Inc., The Lauder Foundation, A. Alfred Taubman, Laura–Lee Whittier Woods, Howard Lipman, and Ed Downe in honor of the Museum's 50th Anniversary 80.32. Art © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY