Three Flags

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Three Flags
Artist Jasper Johns
Year 1958
Type Encaustic on canvas
Dimensions (30 78 in × 45 12 in)
Location Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City

Three Flags is a 1958 painting by American artist Jasper Johns.

Done in encaustic (wax and pigment) on canvas, the work consists of three concentric American flags, depicted in their usual red, white and blue colors, with 48 white stars in a blue canton on a field of thirteen alternating red and white stripes. A total of 84 white stars are visible from the three layers, reversing the usual 48 stars representing the then U.S. states (preceding Alaska and Hawaii) of the U.S. flag between 1912 and 1959.

The three flags exist in a tiered relationship to one another, with three canvases of decreasing size stacked on top of each other, each progressively approximately 25% smaller than the one below, creating a three-dimensional work. In a sense, the perspective is reversed, with the smaller paintings projecting out towards the viewer. Only the topmost smallest painting is fully visible; the two behind are only partially visible.[1]

The painting was acquired by the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City for $1 million in 1980, to celebrate its 50th anniversary.[2][3]


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