American Flag Art Throughout History

Notable artists and their portrayal of the American flag art over time.

Since the beginning of this country, artists have continued to reinvent the American flag with their art.  From first hand experiences to dreams, many artists use the same colors for inspiration but somehow evoke new emotions and show a whole new side to the flag than seen before.

Childe Hassam, born in Massachusetts in 1859, created Flags, Afternoon on the Ave with his very popular impressionist style. Between 1916 and 1918, Hassam completed around two dozen flag paintings commemorating parades and flags of Allies from Belgium to the United States.

Childe Hassam art

Not long after Hassam, Guy Carleton Wiggins began expressing his flag pride with paintings depicting American flags flying in blizzards, such as Trinity Church, Wall Street. Wiggins tended to travel abroad as well, but always held a special love to New York, where he painted his first flag scene.

Jasper Johns was a painter, sculptor, and printmaker; he became known for his images of flags and numbers, with one of his more popular pieces as Flag. During the 1950’s Johns painted a series of flag works that made American’s view the flag in a whole new light. His works were not flag-waving displays of patriotism, but of irony. Since the mid-1950’s Johns painted familiar objects such as maps, number, targets, and flags but did so in a way that raised questions about how painted images differ from the real objects they portray.

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