Kerry James Marshall became known in the 1990s for his artworks that invoke the grand traditions of history painting of 18th-century Europe. However, Marshall’s work pointedly defies the genre’s hallmark traits. Throughout his already forty-year career, Marshall has often depicted African American subjects—long absent from the traditional narratives of art history—in everyday settings that exude an otherworldly aura. Bang, acquired early in Marshall’s career by the Cleveland-based Progressive Corporation, is one of the artist’s most iconic works. The monumental painting depicts three African American children saluting the American flag in a verdant suburban backyard on the Fourth of July.
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The Cleveland Museum of Art is supported in part by Cuyahoga County residents through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture and made possible in part by state tax dollars allocated by the Ohio Legislature to the Ohio Arts Council (OAC). The OAC is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically.