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Tours

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Meet the Director

About the Whitney

As the preeminent institution devoted to the art of the United States, the Whitney Museum of American Art presents the full range of twentieth-century and contemporary American art, with a special focus on works by living artists. The Whitney is dedicated to collecting, preserving, interpreting, and exhibiting American art, and its collection—arguably the finest holdings of twentieth-century American art in the world—is the Museum's key resource. The Museum's flagship exhibition, the Biennial, is the country's leading survey of the most recent developments in American art.

Innovation has been a hallmark of the Whitney since its beginnings. It was the first museum dedicated to the work of living American artists and the first New York museum to present a major exhibition of a video artist (Nam June Paik, in 1982). Such important figures as Jasper Johns, Jay DeFeo, Glenn Ligon, Cindy Sherman, and Paul Thek were given their first comprehensive museum surveys at the Whitney. The Museum has consistently purchased works within the year they were created, often well before the artists who created them became broadly recognized.

Designed by architect Renzo Piano and situated between the High Line and the Hudson River, the Whitney's current building vastly increases the Museum’s exhibition and programming space, providing the most expansive view ever of its unsurpassed collection of modern and contemporary American art.

Where We Are

Solo en Inglès

Hear directly from artists and curators on selected works from Where We Are: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1900–1960.

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