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Closed Now
Wed–Sun 11am–7pm
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1533 Sul Ross St.
Houston, TX 77006
713-525-9400
Closed Now
Wed–Sun 11am–7pm
Free Admission
1533 Sul Ross St.
Houston, TX 77006
713-525-9400

Menil

Jasper Johns, American, born 1930
Flag, 1959
Graphite pencil and graphite wash on paper
10 3/8 × 14 1/8 in. (26.4 × 35.8 cm)
Work on paper (Drawing)
Bequest of David Whitney
2005-39

© Jasper Johns / VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY
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In a 1958 exhibition in New York City, Jasper Johns unveiled his now-canonical artworks of flags and targets—objects that he described as “things the mind already knows.” His process of deriving imagery from quotidian items and moments only to subject them to compositional rearrangements like layering, mirroring, and inversion has linked his work with such movements as Pop, Minimalism, and Conceptualism. In Johns’s hands, however, everyday symbols become destabilized and unfamiliar. In Flag, 1959, close looking reveals a diversity of mark-making. There is an abundance of short, stand-alone hatches and squiggles, and the stars are uneven, almost casual, with little attention given to keeping lines within the carefully laid demarcations. This flag does not cohere; it is only habitual ways of seeing that make the image a commonplace and presumably knowable symbol.