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Jasper Johns Three Flags

Red white and blue stripes with stars

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Johns chose to represent the American flag not because he was particularly nationalistic but because he was looking to paint the most banal, easily recognizable subject he could find. What better than the Star-Spangled Banner? John's flage does not fly from a mast in glory, it is not carried by a victorious soldier. It is flat, like a real flay would be if it were pinned on a wall. Johns has not represented a flag but presented us with a flag. He is not trying to fool us into believing that it is real, however. Encaustic, a medium used primarily by the Greeks, gives the painting a thick, relief-like surface. Johns has superimposed three differently size flags on top of one another, reinforcing the image, almost like a flashing light and creating a strange optical effect. With fellow American Robert Rauschenberg, Johns is regarded as one of the most important influences on American Pop Art.

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