Flags

Artist: Jasper Johns (American, born Augusta, Georgia, 1930)

Publisher: Published by Universal Limited Art Editions

Date: 1968

Medium: Lithograph with stamps

Dimensions: Sheet: 34 × 25 in. (86.4 × 63.5 cm)

Classification: Prints

Credit Line: Florence and Joseph Singer Collection, 1969

Accession Number: 69.701.2

Description

A key figure in what was termed the Neo-Dada movement, Johns appropriated common, often overlooked, objects such as ale cans, flags, maps, and stenciled letters and numbers (all things that, the artist claimed "the mind already knows") in his work. His banal subjects can be seen as evoking Marcel Duchamp’s concept of the readymade, yet whereas Duchamp selected an ordinary object such as a urinal or bicycle wheel, removed it from its expected location and function, and placed it in the context of "art," Johns instead creates representations of such objects in paintings, drawings, sculpture, and prints, each of which makes evident its construction, materials, and the artist's touch. Rather than prioritizing the originality of each composition, Johns focuses on methods of representation and translation between mediums and contexts; as he famously wrote in a notebook in 1963–64 about his intent to "Take an object. / Do something to it/ Do something else to it." Here, Johns used lithography to render two American flags on a single sheet of handmade paper: one, brightly colored and firmly anchored in the upper register, the other, a ghostly twin rendered in tones of grey and only partially visible, appears to nearly slide off the sheet.

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