Monday, March 21, 2016

Other artists think about flags

With my longstanding fixation on the flag, I have been alert to its use in other people's art as well as my own.

I found lots of flags among the Impressionist painters; their bright flutter must have been magnetic to artists trying to capture the momentary light of a scene.

Edouard Manet, Rue Mosnier Decked with Flags, 1878

Claude Monet, Garden at Sainte-Adresse, 1867

Childe Hassam, Flags on the Waldorf, 1916

More contemporary artists have used the flag too, but often in a political or ironic sense rather than simply as pictorial objects.

Faith Ringgold, Flag Is Bleeding

Larry Rivers, The Last Civil War Veteran, 1959

James Rosenquist, A Free for All, 1976

And the godfather of all flag art, Jasper Johns has used the flag as a recurring theme, making more than 40 paintings in different sizes and color palettes.

Jasper Johns, Flag on Orange Field, 1957

Jasper Johns, Green and Orange Flag, 1969

This one is painted in complements; if you stare at the white dot in the middle for a while and then look at a white wall, you'll see the RWB flag.

Johns' flags raised all kinds of consternation among art critics and theoreticians: were they actually flags, or were they pictures of flags?  It's hard for anybody other than art critic/theoreticians to see what the difference is, or why it matters, but thousands of trees were sacrificed for the discussion.  I don't particularly care about the answer, but I really love the flags (and everything else Johns has ever made).

No comments:

Post a Comment