Reflecting on his choice of easily recognizable images, Johns said that he was interested in "the idea of knowing an image rather than just seeing it out of the corner of your eye." The map of the United States, in its ubiquity and iconicity, is "seen and not looked at, not examined." Preserving the overall proportions of the country and the shape of its states, Johns's energetic application of paint subverts the conventions of cartography. Map invites close inspection because its content is both familiar and imaginary.
Gallery label from 2007