Signs of the Times
"An empty canvas is full." - Robert Rauschenberg
Monogram detail
"If this is modern art, I quit!" - Anonymous

Robert Rauschenberg, Monogram detail, 1955 - 1959.











Robert Rauschenberg, Canyon, 1959.












Canyon detail

Robert Rauschenberg, Canyon (details), 1959.
Rembrandt Van Rijn, The Abduction of Ganymede, 1635.











The Beat Generation
1914 - 1930

Beat = tired, down and out or upbeat and "on the beat"


The Americans first American printing

first American printing of The Americans 1959











Robert Frank, Trolley- New Orleans, 1955 - 1956.











Rosa Parks memorialized
with Congressional statue
Rosa Parks on a Montgomery bus on December 21, 1956, the day Montgomery's public transportation system was legally integrated after a strike that lasted 381 days. Behind Parks is Nicholas C. Chriss, a UPI reporter covering the event.











Charleston South Carolina

Robert Frank, Charleston, South Carolina, 1955 - 1956.











Parade Hoboken New Jersey

Robert Frank, Parade, Hoboken, New Jersey, 1955 - 1956.












Jasper Johns, Flag, 1954 - 1955.











patriotic = having or expressing devotion to and vigorours support for one's country
Alberto Vargas American Pin-Up
German Pin-Up











encaustic = a painting medium in which pigment is suspended in hot wax

Jasper Johns, Flag (detail),  1954-1955.
Jasper Johns in his studio with Flag





















Why is this a work of art?
Why is this a flag?
The critic Robert Rosenblum asked of Flag, "Is it blasphemous or respectful, simple-minded or recondite?"
In 1958, Alaska and Hawaii became states, making this flag obsolete
Jasper Johns, Flag, 1954 - 1955.











"[Johns's] Flag is full of stories. Under its soft, waxy, rough-smooth surface are headlines and stories clipped out of newspapers, barely visible in reproduction. In the gallery, the stories are dimly read through ghostly suspensions of white between the red bars. Their spectral presence suggests that under the surface of the flag's simple iconic presence are complicated lives, happenings and secrets. The simple banner conceals untold possibilities. For us, looking at this Flag may be a reminder of what ought to be obvious: that nations, like individuals, cannot be summed up easily." - John Sheridan
Mutt and Jeff


Jasper Johns, Flag (detail), 1954 -55.
Jasper Johns, Flag (detail), 1954-1955.












Fourth of July Jay New York

Jasper John, Flag, 1954-1955.
Robert Frank, Fourth of July - Jay, New York, 1955-1956.









Semiotics for Beginners











White Flag

Jasper Johns, White Flag, 1955.


The Metropolitan Museum of Art bought White Flag for $20 millon, purchased directly from the artist, in 1998.











White Flag

Jasper Johns, White Flag (detail), 1955.










semiotics = the study of signs, symbols and how meaning is constructed

Numbers in Colour

Signifier (image or word) + signified (concept, object or emotion) = sign (whole)
 "a - p - p - l - e" + apple= apple
Relationship between the signifier and the signified is conventional – it is always dependent on social and cultural conventions
Therefore, the relationship between the signifier and the signified (the sign) is always arbitrary

Jasper Johns, Numbers in Colour, 1959.