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Flag Day

An oil painting that depicts the head and bare, right arm of a brown-skinned man who appers to emerge from behind an American flag. The flag is turned on its side so that the stripes are vertical, and the stars are on the right. The man grasps one of the stripes of the flag in his fist. In this way, the man seems to be imprisoned by the American flag, and is trying to break free.

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  • An oil painting that depicts the head and bare, right arm of a brown-skinned man who appers to emerge from behind an American flag. The flag is turned on its side so that the stripes are vertical, and the stars are on the right. The man grasps one of the stripes of the flag in his fist. In this way, the man seems to be imprisoned by the American flag, and is trying to break free.

Date:

1966

Artist:

Benny Andrews
American, 1930–2006

About this artwork

Benny Andrews attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago from 1954 to 1958 on the G.I. Bill. Upon graduating, he moved to New York, where he began agitating for black artists to be represented at major museums in the city. A cofounder of the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition (BECC) in 1969, Andrews was increasingly categorized as a “protest artist.”

Flag Day can be read as a harbinger of two later projects—a program Andrews organized through the BECC to teach art to inmates in New York City prisons, and a large body of work from the early 1970s he made to mark America’s bicentennial. This intimately scaled, potent painting shows a black man imprisoned by the “bars” of the American flag.

Status

On View, Gallery 297

Department

Contemporary Art

Artist

Benny Andrews

Title

Flag Day

Origin

United States

Date

1966

Medium

Oil on canvas

Dimensions

53.3 × 40.6 cm (21 × 16 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of the Honorable Joseph P. Carroll and Mrs. Carroll

Reference Number

1999.562

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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