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Childe Hassam redux

 

When I saw rows and rows of American flags flying on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan the other day I was reminded of  the flag paintings of the American impressionist artist Childe Hassam, made from 1916 onwards. Here is Hassam's painting "Flags, Fifth Avenue":

In his landmark history, American Visions, Robert Hughes writes that Hassam delighted "in the new visual texture that this massing of banners gave the canyon of Manhattan". He continues:

Flags in city streets had been a favorite subject of French Impressionism as early as forty years before: Monet, Pissarro, and Manet had all painted Parisian streets decked with banners, breaking up their colors and their snap in the wind into a texture of swift, ebullient brushstrokes.... Hassam's purpose was different. He wanted his flags to be entirely legible as flags, because he was constructing images of American patriotism and of Allied cooperation: he wanted to symbolize the good guys' power to win. Propaganda banners that a French artist would have blurred are, in Hassam, messages: BUY LIBERTY BONDS. 

For more on the art of Hassam, go here and here.

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