James Bassler (American, b. 1933)
Linen, waxed; tapestry weave with eccentric wefts, Overall - h:180.40 w:317.50 cm (h:71 w:125 inches). Gift of The Textile Art Alliance 2005.131
Prompted by the Gulf War in 1990, Jim Bassler spent the year of 1992 dyeing linen thread and weaving Old Glory. As the current war in Iraq demonstrates, oil has dominated political, social, and environmental issues in our oil-based economy ever since the oil crisis in the 1970s. Old Glory embodies the connector between national identity, politics, and oil. For decades, artists have used the powerful national symbol of the American flag to convey their sentiments. Some of the most famous are Jasper Johns, who began his flag series in 1955; Faith Ringgold (1960s); Lenore Tawney (1970s); and Dread Scott Tyler (1980s), whose installation art was partially responsible for the Supreme Court ruling on flag desecration in 1989. Justice William J. Brennan Jr. issued the eloquent decision:
We are aware that desecration of the flag is deeply
offensive to many, but punishing desecration of
the flag dilutes the very freedom that makes this
emblem so revered and worth revering.