Johns does not compose, he reuses. The flags, targets, numbers and letters that appear altogether early in his career have no meaning and do not bring any emotion. He accepts the color when it was codified before him and this is the deep significance of his use of the US flag probably wrongly regarded as a patriotic expression.
To master the absence of message, Johns should control the material. He uses as early as 1954 a thick encaustic wax that dries quickly enough so that a new supply does not alter the previous layers. The nervous look of his brush stroke is in fact an opposite of Kline's action painting.
These young artists soon featured by Castelli reject the expressionism and are not concerned in the pop art in the sense of their contemporaries Lichtenstein and Warhol. Their movement is sometimes called Neo-Dadaism.
Having annihilated the message of artistic creation, Johns destroys the support. The viewer likes to find his marks by the position of the canvas. Johns contradicts this desire by pasting a canvas on another canvas, both painted in the same style with some continuity in the brush strokes at their borders.
On November 4 in New York, Sotheby's sells an encaustic and canvas collage on canvas 102 x 102 cm created by Johns in 1960, lot 65T estimated $ 15M. Its title, The Disappearance, reflects the artistic nihilism of this painter who was able to lastingly shake all traditions by the fact that he was self-taught.
I invite you to watch the video shared by Sotheby's.