“White Flag” Encaustic Painting by Jasper Johns

Jasper Johns is
often credited with reintroducing the encaustic painting medium to art lovers.

In “White Flag,” one of his most famous paintings, he exploited texture by dipping fabric and paper into melted beeswax mixed with white paint, a method he called “dirty encaustic.”

After applying a ground of beeswax, he built up the stars and stripes with applications of collage: torn pieces of newsprint, paper, and bits of fabric. Areas of the flag were highlighted with white oil paint, lending an even greater appearance of texture. The finished piece reveals a ghostly image with faint undertones of red, white and blue colors of the flag.

Johns was inspired to create this work after he had a dream. “White Flag,” measuring about 78 inches by 120 inches, was painted in 1955, remaining in Johns’ ownership until the Metropolitan Museum of Art bought it in 1998. Although Johns and MOMA declined to provide the price paid for “White Flag,” it’s estimated that Johns received about $20 million for this painting.