In 1973, the artist juxtaposes two US flags on one surface with their strips vertically dispositioned and the star block displaced to the upper left. It is an experiment by which he compares an oil coated with a glossy varnish with his signature technique in encaustic wax where the upper layers cover an already dry paint. In both cases the under-layers influence the colors visible at the surface.
The differences are subtle but Johns endeavors to reproduce them in a multiple. He chooses the silkscreen process but of course the usual four colors are not enough. The Simca Artist Prints Inc company develops with him for his double flag a set of 31 screens to be used in five stages.
Flags I is a technical feat. Johns was able to transfer to a multiple edition the voluntarily irregular layers of his paint. This image 67 x 84 cm on a sheet 70 x 90 cm is printed in 65 copies plus seven artist's proofs.
The best results were recorded by Christie's in a remarkably steady increase: $ 1.45M on November 11, 2015; $ 990K on November 13, 2013; $ 840K on May 11, 2010; $ 620K on April 30, 2008; $ 600K on November 9, 2005; $ 430K on 3 May 2005. These prices include the premium.
The print 59/65 is estimated $ 800K for sale by Christie's in New York on April 26, lot 107.
SOLD for $ 1.7M including premium