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The American Flag in Contemporary Art


The American Flag in Art in Contemporary Art

From Jasper Johns to Sterling Ruby, American artists have employed the flag to express a variety of concerns—from formal and conceptual issues to social and celebratory matters. Observing America’s Independence Day, we’ve collected a dozen of our favorite depictions of “Old Glory” in contemporary art for your consideration.

 Jasper Johns, White Flag, 1955. Encaustic, oil, newsprint, and charcoal on canvas; 78 5/16 x 120 3/4 in.
© 2014 Jasper Johns / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Collection Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Barbara Kruger, Untitled, 1991. Photographic silkscreen/vinyl, 66 x 93 in. Courtesy Mary Boone Gallery

David Hammons, African American Flag, 1990. Printed fabric, 19 1/2 x 12 1/2 in.
Collection Museum of Modern Art, New York

Ronnie Cutrone, Love, 1982. Acrylic on U.S. Flag, 10 x 6 ft.
Courtesy the estate of Ronnie Cutrone.

Roy Lichtenstein, Forms In Space, 1985. Screenprint on Rives BFK paper, 31 x 42 in.
Published by the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia

Kate Ericson & Mel Ziegler, Peas, Carrots, Potatoes, 1994-1996. 364 jars, peas, carrots, and potatoes, 30 1/4 x 58 1/4 x 2 1/4 in.
Courtesy of the artists and Galerie Perrotin, New York

Claes Oldenburg, U.S.A. Flag, 1960. U.S.A. Muslin, plaster, tempera, and wire. Collection Museum Ludwig, Cologne

Sara Rahbar, What Ever We had to Lose We Lost, and in a Moonless Sky We Marched (Flag #41), 2009. textiles and mixed media, 74 x 24 in.
Courtesy the artist

Tom Wesselmann, Still Life Number 36, 1964. Oil and collage on canvas, 120 × 192 1/4 in.
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. © Estate of Tom Wesselmann / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Keith Haring, Untitled (Flag), 1988. Serigraph Poster for American Music Festival, 20 x 28 in.
Courtesy the Keith Haring Foundation and Gladstone Gallery, New York

Faith Ringgold, The Flag is Bleeding #2, 1997. Acrylic on canvas, 76 x 79.5 in. Courtesy ACA Galleries, New York

Sterling Ruby, Flag (4791), 2014. Bleached and dyed canvas and elastic, 170 x 266 in. © Sterling Ruby;
Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth, Photo: Robert Wedemeyer

Paul Laster

Paul Laster is a writer, editor, independent curator, artist and lecturer. He is a New York desk editor at ArtAsiaPacific and a contributing editor at Whitehot and artBahrain. He was the founding editor of and and art editor of and Russell Simmons's OneWorld Magazine; started's art section; and worked as a photojournalist for and Art in America. He is a frequent contributor to Time Out New York, New York Observer, Modern Painters, ArtPulse and

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