The American Flag in Art in Contemporary Art
By PAUL LASTER, JULY 2014
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 is a writer, editor, curator, artist and lecturer. He’s a contributing editor at ArtAsiaPacific and Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art and writer for Time Out New York, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, Galerie Magazine, Sculpture, Art & Object, Cultured, Architectural Digest, Garage, Surface, Ocula, Observer, ArtPulse, Conceptual Fine Arts and Glasstire. He was the founding editor of Artkrush, started The Daily Beast’s art section, and was art editor of Russell Simmons’ OneWorld Magazine, as well as a curator at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, now MoMA PS1.
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