Left: England’s Glory, by Derek Boshier, 1962. Boshier was along with Peter Blake, one of the original pop artists. This work shows the British flag being stripped away to reveal a Stars and Stripes in a comment on the rise of consumerism and cultural imperialism. Top Right: Union Jack by Peter Blake, 2008. Bottom Right: The Who, wearing a flag jacket and mod target t-shirt.
For a time in the early 1960s ‘Swinging London’ appropriated the Union Jack. Owen Hatherley wrote in The Guardian:
“Along with the target… the Union Jack was one of the symbols of mod… In the context of the time, this took the Union Jack as just another de-contextualised symbol, another set of abstract forms, its lines as clear, direct and threatening as that other mod insignia, the arrow”.
Jasper Johns has painted the Stars and Stripes over 30 times. His 1955 work ‘White Flag’ is (like the Apollo flags) all white.
He also painted more conventionally coloured versions Jonathan Jones says: “Johns’ Flag takes a familiar image and transforms it into the great American novel of modern art” in this Guardian piece.
This multimedia piece from the Museum of Modern Art produced this piece for children tells you a little of how it was produced.
Apollo 11 in July 1969 was the first of six moon landings. They left a plaque saying they had “Come in peace for all mankind”, but after some debate the astronauts had also planted an American flag. This wasn’t a territorial claim – the moon was protected by a United Nation’s treaty. In 2012 a lunar survey revealed that five of the six flags were still there (Apollo 11s had been knocked down when they blasted off from the Moon’s surface. However it was thought that 40 years of ultraviolet radiation had bleached white the $5.50 5×3 foot flags.
More information: NASA documents: Where No Flag Has Gone Before: Political and Technical Aspects of Placing a Flag on the Moon and Six Flags on the Moon: What is Their Current Condition? From the booklet A White Flag on the Moon:
“In 1962, President Kennedy had declared of the Moon: ‘We have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace’. By which he meant the Star Spangled Banner”.
[Photo: Matthew Albanese]
A White Flag on the Moon is a booklet by me (David Dunnico). It looks at how the British Union Jack and American Stars and Stripes flags (and the ideas they embody) have been portrayed in art. This blog will include the text from the booklet along with other flag miscellany.
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