I had a particular idea in my mind what a flashlight looked like and I wanted to go and buy one as a model. I looked for a week for what I thought looked like an ordinary flashlight, and I found all kinds of flashlights with red plastic shields, wings on the sides . . . and this made me very suspect of my idea, because it was so difficult to find this thing I had thought was so common. Actually the choice is quite personal and is not really based on one's observations at all . . .
--Jasper Johns, 1965
Along with Robert Rauschenberg, American artist Jasper Johns is known as a forerunner of the Pop Art movement. Although not a Pop artist himself, Johns incorporated recurring icons and motifs into his painting, sculpture, and prints--such as American flags, targets, stenciled words, and numbers--that set the stage for the proliferation of popular imagery in art during the 1960s.
Flashlight is one of his Johns' earliest pedestal-based sculptures. Cast in bronze, it is the final version of an earlier work the artist created in sculpmetal, a pliable claylike substance that, when dry, emulates cast metal. By adding two iron bars that align the flashlight with the base, Johns ironically comments upon the tradition of sculpture as a rare, precious object. .
Walker solo exhibition: Jasper Johns: Printed Symbols, 1980