On Wednesday the White House announced 15 new recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor the Commander in Chief can bestow on civilians, including Modernist painter Jasper Johns (also, George H.W. Bush…). Obama will pin medals on lapels during a ceremony early next year, but in the meantime, let’s look at five Johns works that seem well-suited for presidential approval, starting with his stately “Map” (1961, above, from MoMA).
“0 Through 9″ (1970), lead relief, currently hanging in the White House as part of the Obamas’ borrowed art collection.
“Three Flags” (1958, from the Whitney), encaustic on canvas, symbols of a superpower, stacked like pancakes.
“Flag – Moratorium” (1969, from the Fogg Art Museum), offset color lithograph, a Halloween-hued portrayal of a nation in dire need of remedy.
“Flag” (1957 from the Met), oil on paper, mounted on paperboard, a ghostly representation of an empire so wrapped up in its mythology of permanence.