With the embarrassing news this last week that some open-carry bozos planned to stage a mock mass shooting on UT Austin’s campus over the weekend, and the anti-climatic reality of it (my husband referred to it as “like something out of Spinal Tap”) I’ve been thinking more about getting rid of my own revolver, a .38 Special, which I’ve kept loaded under my bed for all of the years I’ve lived in Texas as a grown up. I’ve also been thinking about this state and our country’s increasingly toxic political and actual relationship to guns, and in turn I’ve been thinking a lot about depictions of guns in art. Artists have tackled the subject in as many ways as they make their work. And why wouldn’t an artist want to grapple with one the trickiest killing machines mankind has created? It’s symbolically so (cough) loaded that it’s like a red flag to a bull.
In the modern age, there are the now-iconic Warhol and Rosenquist and Man Ray variations, and a number of examples from closer to home. If you give yourself less than ten minutes to compile a mental list of international and regional artists who’ve dealt with guns in their work, you rack up an impressive number really quickly. (According to some historians, artists have depicted guns one way or another since the mid-12th century.)
With this, I’m not even counting the bounty of chilling war and street and news photography of guns and gun violence, and I also don’t mean graffiti just now, or illustration, or art made primarily with spent bullet casings, of which this native Texan feels there is little to recommend.
Here are some artists’ gun-related images off the top of my head. Feel free to list more in the comments, especially Texas artists. There are so many good ones out there that I want to do a Part 2. (And there’s so much out there generally that there could easily be a Parts 3-25, but I won’t go that far.)
Let’s just get these first handful out of the way now. But I couldn’t leave them out.
And bring up the rear of this particular vanguard with:
and of course:
A few from the wayback machine:
Can’t leave this out:
Closer to home:
Big guns by big guns:
But wait! There’s more. We really haven’t even scratched the surface.
But let’s not dive into comics and near-comics. We’ll be there all year.
Disgusting excuse for art, though he’s apologized profusely since then:
(He actually shot the dog.)
Deserved takedown of Otterness by unknown artist:
That’s all for today. Let me hear from you.