Linen, cotton, metal, wood; warp-faced plain weave with appliquéd blue jean fragments and buttons
Overall: 200.2 x 66.3 cm (78 13/16 x 26 1/8 in.)
Gift of The Textile Arts Club 1975.39
Lenore Tawney is internationally recognized as a pioneer in post-World War II American art. She transformed the traditional two-dimensional textile surface into expressive three-dimensional forms and expanded the media of collage and assemblage. In 1955, Tawney began radical experiments in weaving by leaving open spaces between the vertical warps. She created startling juxtapositions between unwoven and woven areas, which she displayed as three-dimensional hangings in space instead of on walls.
In 1974, Tawney created a series of weavings based on the American flag. Other versions include the same red and natural linen stripes with buttons either on painted newsprint or, in a miniature version, on denim. As with many artists who have created renditions of the flag since Jasper Johns displayed his flag paintings at the Leo Castelli gallery in New York in 1958, Tawney's bold work reflects both social and political sentiments. In a note written to the museum's textile curator in 1975, when this "flag" was donated by the Textile Arts Club (now the Textile Art Alliance), the affiliate group of the Textile Department, she described its significance:
For years I had thought of flags and banners. So I finally did it.... After the long series of exposures of the Nixon crimes (and others) I felt our flag was being shamed, hence it is "untitled." It goes back to beginnings. Instead of Betsy Ross's petticoat, a friend gave me her blue jeans, and the blue jean buttons are the stars, dark and not proud. But still the true sentiments of that early time are there, the "true-blue," the good and strong linen.
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