Today we are celebrating some of the Independence Day art pieces. We know that there is no need to explain why, on the day of the 4th July, we will present to you various images showcasing the American flag, political speeches, and ceremonies, the Founding Fathers, fireworks, barbeques, family gatherings, baseball games, and parades. These images relate back and commemorate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, which happened on this day in 1776. The signing of the document helped to change America and to increase the patriotic feeling for most of its citizens.
Independence Day is a national holiday marked by patriotic displays. Many politicians make it a point on this day to appear at a public event to praise the national heritage, laws, history, society and people. Families gather in parks and organize picnics, barbeques and everything on this day is decorated in red, white and blue. The night before, the fireworks, mesmerizing both the kids and the adults, color the sky.
The images, which follow bellow, showcase the importance of history and tradition of the United States and the various approaches of the artists to this important event. Some decided to focus on a more private family moment by the pool, and some images are important examples of historical paintings, or examples of major European art movements that crossed the ocean and influenced the style of art in America, prompting the birth of American Impressionism. As much as we know that art is sometimes put to use as a form of a protest, as a form of investigation, this time, the paintings we are presenting to you celebrate the “ land of the free” and the images that follow are symbols of freedom and festivity.
Declaration of Independence the painter John Trumbull painted in 1817 still manages to fascinate the public. Why? One of the reasons is for sure the fact that the painter painted many of the depicted figures from life. In fact, Trumbull managed to portray 42 of the 56 signers and it is because of this the painting is often confused to present the actual signing of the Declaration when in fact it represents a moment of the presentation of the draft of the Declaration of Independence to Congress. Trumbull was an American artist during the period of the American Revolutionary War and was notable for his historical paintings as well as portraiture work. This painting is one of his most celebrated pieces and is an image on the reverse of the two-dollar bill.
Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, the German artist, associated with the Düsseldorf School of painting, was famous for his history paintings, most notably the image presented above, Washington Crossing the Delaware. The painted scene commemorates the historical crossing of the General George Washington. The original painting painted in 1851 expresses the pivotal point of the Revolutionary War and was used, upon the artist return to Germany, to encourage Europe’s liberal reforms. Prompting the change through the examples of the American Revolution, and using American tourists and students as models and assistants, Leutze finished the first painting in 1850, which was shortly after its completion damaged by the fire in the artist’s studio. The second version of the painting was begun that same year and placed on exhibition in New York in October 1851.
Jumping decades we arrive at a time of the American art when the Impressionism art pieces dominated and shaped the interest of major art collectors and rich patrons after the war. American Impressionism followed the European’s heritage of rapid brush strokes and vibrant color. All of this is evident in the painting The Fourth of July by Childe Hassam. The American flag was a common subject matter for the painter, who is often overlooked by the critics and by the public. This painting follows and explains the celebration of this public holiday perfectly as we can almost taste and for sure feel the excitement on the street and of the people walking under the array of the America flags hanging above them. The celebration of the American identity is transported by the strong brushstroke and the evident color choice.
As we approach the halfway mark of our top list of Independence Day artworks, we cannot overlook the Pop Art movement and its artists whose artworks referenced the American culture in the most explicit way possible. One of the most celebrated artists of this movement for sure is Andy Warhol, whose prints and paintings used images of the American Popular culture and images of the iconic American figures.Why have we decided to add this image to our top list some of you may ask yourself? This image was found on the Instagram profile in 2015 commemorating the 4th July. The profile belongs to, none other than the Chief Curator at Large at MoMA and Director of MoMA PS1, Klaus Biesenbach who for the second year in 2015 shared works he considered to represent the American identity. The portrait of Andy Warhol, taken by Alberto Schommer in 1983 was one of the images from his list.
Between the years 1954-55 inspired by the dream of the U.S flag, Jasper Johns used the factory-made American flag, covered it with a wax called encaustic and raised it on the wall. Doing this, Johns complicated the meaning of the sacred national symbol. Explaining that he was attracted to painting ‘ things the mind already knows’ and explaining that the use of a familiar object freed him to focus on the act of painting itself, the artist’s points to a paradox that the flag, considered as a sacred almost mystical object, is, in fact, a reproducible object. Many critics were unsure whether the painting was, in fact, a painted flag or a painting of a flag. With this painting, Johns’ way of understanding the function of art anticipated the minimal art and conceptual art. Often described as a Neo-Dadaist, Johns, similarly to Duchamp investigated the power of the everyday object and what is considered as art.
Eric Fischl produced some psychologically astounding paintings in the early 1980’s, and his paintings were filled with nudity and tension. The painting Barbecue from 1982 depicts a poolside scene and a boy playing with fire at a summer barbecue. Produced with a loose, expressionist touch, there is an element of discomfort since our attention is not pulled towards the circus fire-eating trick but towards a bowl and the fish in them as much towards the ambiguous face of the man grilling to the side. Explaining that "Almost all of my early art dealt with the fallout from middle-class taboos, the messy, the ambivalent emotions couples felt, the inherent racism, the sexual tensions and the unhappiness roiling below the surface of our prim suburban lives” , we needed to incorporate an example of Fischl’s production since his work examines the question of identity in America.
Maybe we decided to keep the best for last. This video is an authentic trailer played across American theatres and is an authentic record of history.
All images used for illustrative purposes only. Featured image: Robert Mapplethorpe - The American Flag. Image via wikimedia.org