Wednesday, September 20, 2017

"Untitled (Dividing Time), 2017" by Robert Longo

Artist Robert Longo (who shot to fame in the early 80s with his large-scale black and white drawings of business people contorting against an empty background) finished a charcoal drawing, prophetically, on the day of the most recent Presidential election, November 8, 2016. It showed a flag divided down the center by a five-inch void.

Longo is no stranger to flag imagery having completed a series of black American flags several years ago. But he has now branched out into creating actual flags with his creation Untitled (Dividing Time), 2017. Arts foundation Creative Time (the group that commissioned Tribute in Light, the twin beacons of light that illuminated lower Manhattan six months after 9/11) commissioned Longo to create a physical manifestation of his charcoal drawing for Pledges of Allegiance, a serialized commission of 16 flags by famous artists. Creative Time's website says, "Each flag points to an issue the artist is passionate about, a cause they believe is worth fighting for, and speaks to how we might move forward collectively. Conceived in response to the current political climate, Pledges of Allegiance aims to inspire a sense of community among cultural institutions, and begin articulating the urgent response our political moment demands."

Longo elaborated on his creation: "I created this flag for Creative Time’s Pledges of Allegiance project based on a large-scale charcoal drawing I completed on the day of the most recent presidential election. The drawing Untitled (Nov. 8, 2016) consists of a left and right panel, with five inches separating them. I chose to draw the right panel larger but with fewer stars; my intention is to present the current symptomatic divide in the United States." Indeed, there has been a frightening political swing to the right not just here in the United States but in areas around the world. The divide in this country--politically, racially, socially--is something that is simply not going to go away. And I'm not sure how it is going to evolve, but I have an uneasy foreboding that it will entail some version of a Civil War...but I'm not sure that makes sense since, apparently, the first one never ended.

Robert Longo’s Untitled (Dividing Time) has been raised at ten cultural institutions around the country. It is on view at:
– Creative Time Headquarters, 59 East 4th Street, NY, NY
– The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, 258 Main St, Ridgefield, CT
– Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Pkwy, Brooklyn, NY
– 21C Museum Hotel Durham, 111 Corcoran St, Durham, NC
– University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum, 3821 USF Holly Drive, Tampa, FL
– Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, 4454 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI
– Kemper Art Museum at Washington University, 1 Brookings Dr, St. Louis, MO
– RISD Museum, 224 Benefit St, Providence, RI
– KMAC Museum, 715 W Main St, Louisville, KY
– Cornell’s Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, 114 Central Ave, Ithaca, NY

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