Everybody knows that Memorial Day isn’t just about being off work and getting a bargain at one of the big sales. If you have family members or friends who are Veterans, be sure to thank them today for they service, and show them that their sacrifice matters to us, now more than ever. Enjoy your day!
“One night I dreamed that I painted a large American flag,” Johns has said of this work, “and the next morning I got up and I went out and bought the materials to begin it.” Those materials included three canvases that he mounted on plywood, strips of newspaper, and encaustic paint—a mixture of pigment and molten wax that has formed a surface of lumps and smears.
The newspaper scraps visible beneath the stripes and forty-eight stars lend this icon historical specificity. The American flag is something “the mind already knows,” Johns has said, but its execution complicates the representation and invites close inspection. A critic of the time encapsulated this painting’s ambivalence, asking, “Is this a flag or a painting?”
Jasper Johns was born May 15th, 1930 and currently lives in Sharon, Connecticut. Flag is part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.