Tyler Green is sticking up for patriotism and the artworld in a business sterotyped as liberal (definitely not part of Palin’s "pro-‘merican part of the country). Asking prominant curators to pick their favorite flag-art, Green has assembled a lovely bit of pride for artists in American idealism; as the symbol of freedom is manipulated in a decentralized ethos it still retains its potency. Repurposed, repackaged, realigned, it all comes with the unmistakable aura of national identity. Taken at face value many of the works may be contradictory to the CW definition of patriotism, but the nuanced and thoughtful explanations by Rita Gonzales (LACMA), Lawrence Rinder (BAM), Connie Butler (MOMA) and others befit an internationalism of the American identity. Not only can others take pride in the United States, but American artists can take it to the world.
Juan Capistran, Do You Want New Wave or do you Want the Truth
David Hammons, African-American Flag
Green knows his history, and thankfully he goes to David S. Rubin for a choice shot at the topic. Rubin organized Old Glory: The American Flag in Contemporary Art in 1994, and knows a thing or two about the subject and its controversies.
Old Glory was picketed and attacked in 1996 upon travelling to the Arizona Museum of Art; senator John McCain and congressman Bob Stump proposed to cut the museum’s funding for "desecrating the flag". Fifty bikers came into the museum and removed Dread
Scott’s What is the Proper Way to Display the U.S. Flag? (1988) and Kate Millett’s The American Dream Goes to Pot (1970) from the show. Newt Gingrich repeatedly called for the closing of the exhibition while refusing to see it- he even held a press conference outside the museum and didn’t see it.
Sam Weiner, or illegally released documentary photograph?
Rubin today chose the 1970 Sam Weiner piece Those Who Fail to Remember the Past are Condemned to Repeat It
as his favorite flag-art work- and it has death written all over it. It
is hard to separate the work from verboten images from just a few years
ago, and Those Who Fail to Remember the Past are Condemned to Repeat It
is nearly identical to what came to pass. The sad part is not that this
image shocks us at the turn of the 20th century but that either image
is worthy of scorn or ignorance. Today, in 1996 and in 1970, wrestling
between ideologies casts the artworld and others as anti-American
inappropriately. Michael Taylor’s story of the failed Duchamp Vogue cover, the latest in Green’s series, illustrates art’s delicate balance with popular culture.I’ve been reading too much Robert Rosenblum lately, so here’s a few words on Jasper Johns from 1960 about the difference between our flag and their flag. Let’s hope one day they can be the same again, that the rift of the last century will change in this new one.
"There it stands before us in all its virginity, an American flag copied by hand, except that it now exists as a work of art rather than a symbol of nationalism."