As we approach Flag Day, it is almost impossible to not take note of how many amazing contemporary artists utilize American flags in their work. Many of these artists are clearly making a political statement. Some are just using the flag as an iconic symbol. Regardless of the reason, these works tend to resonate with audiences far beyond United States borders. You should definitely keep your eye on the grand old flag.
I was hesitant to call out Johns for fear that it is almost trite. Doesn’t everyone who is living and breathing know Johns’s flags? After much consideration, I ultimately decided it would be sacrilegious to discuss art and flags without including him. After all, Jasper Johns has been creating his iconic flags in various materials since the 1950s. It may be refreshing to contemporary art cynics that Johns was not trying to make any overreaching political statements with his flags. Arguably one of the greatest American artists of all time, he was utilizing the flag simply because it is a well-known, accessible image. It has been said the idea came to him in a dream. This preexisting flat design to which he gives life, texture, and color is executed in the same vein as his targets and numbers.
Matthew Marks Gallery
523 West 24th Street
New York City
Conceptual artist Cady Noland is actually the daughter of artist Kenneth Noland. She was born in Washington, D.C., and produces a lot of art that questions the underlying deficits of the American dream and the American psyche in general. She often uses ordinary objects combined with images of the American flag. She is based in New York and her works are included in many highly regarded private and public art collections throughout the world.
20 East 79th Street
New York City
Everyone is losing his or her minds over William Pope.L’s Trinket at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. The flag is really only one of several installations in the exhibition. But, the flag is the one everyone is talking about. Industrial-size fans are constantly and furiously blowing the flag during museum hours. This movement and sound is meant to allow viewers to feel the flag and democracy rather than just look at it. It is intended to remind people that the American flag and the freedom it represents are very much alive. Everyone who visits Trinket is deeply moved.
William Pope.L: Trinket
On View Until June 28, 2015
The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
152 North Central Avenue