(Waxy) Three American Flags (Jasper Johns)

073

Perhaps because the image is by now so familiar, iconic in its own right, that I never quite got Jasper Johns’ famous Three Flags (1958). I do not believe, as per the wall text, that the painting/construction shifts emphasis from “the flag’s symbolic meaning to the patterns, textures, and structure of the composition.” If anything, the repetitive structure only intensifies the symbolic portent of the flag. What sharpened my attention the other day, doing the paces through the Whitney,  was this little bit of information, also culled from the wall text. The three flags were painted with encaustic, described as a “mixture of pigment suspended in warm wax that congeals as each stroke is applied.” Hidden from the eye, that might be part of the work’s symbolic power: an image of power at mid-century created out of and encrusted by a warm, congealing, waxy fluid.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish though and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
This entry was posted in uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to (Waxy) Three American Flags (Jasper Johns)

  1. dmf says:

    a lot of that sort of art leaves me flat, i figure you had to be there/then to really get it.
    https://www.instagram.com/socialistmodernism/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s