The National Gallery of Art acquires Faith Ringgold’s painting Flag is Bleeding: perhaps the museum’s “largest purchase of a contemporary work of art” since 1976

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THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART (NGA) acquired “The American People Series # 18: The Flag is Bleeding” (1976), a major painting by Gold Faith Ring which makes a powerful political statement on American democracy and racism.

The iconic painting was acquired directly from the artist’s collection with funds donated by the Glenstone Foundation and the NGA Permanent Patrons Fund. “The Bleeding Flag” is Ringgold’s first painting to enter the collection of the Museum in Washington, DC. (The holdings also include two Ringgold draws.) NGA announced the news on October 21.


FAITH RINGGOLD, “The American People Series # 18: The Flag is Bleeding”, 1967 (oil on canvas, 182.88 x 243.84 cm / 72 x 96 inches). | © Faith Ringgold. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC Gift of the Glenstone Foundation and Permanent Patrons Fund, 2021.28.1

For more than 50 years, Ringgold, 91, has created art that documents the American narrative, visualizing its most uncomfortable chapters with an emphasis on issues of race and gender, often invoking the symbolism of the American flag.

An insightful and provocative image, “The Flag is Bleeding” features three people: a black man in a black turtleneck, a white woman in a cocktail dress, and a white man in a suit. Standing in the middle, the blonde haired woman connects the arms of the two men. The American flag is superimposed on the subjects with blood dripping red stripes. The black man holds a knife in one hand and placed his other hand over his heart, immediately putting pressure on a stab and pledging allegiance to America and its flag. He fights for his freedom and his humanity. They are living the American dream.

“This is perhaps the largest purchase of a single piece of contemporary art since the National Gallery acquired Jackson Pollock No. 1, 1950 (Lavender Mist) in 1976”, Harry Cooper , principal curator and head of the modern and contemporary art department. art, said in a statement.

“We thought the American flag was our symbol of freedom, but we were losing our freedoms in the 1960s. All the blood was lying on the sidewalk. Nothing about it in the papers. I mean silence, as if it hadn’t happened.
– Faith Ringgold

ARTIST, ACTIVIST, AUTHOR AND EDUCATOR, Ringgold is 91 years old. During her career, she has expressed herself through painting, quilting, sculpture and printmaking. His pointed commentary explored Jim Crow and the civil rights movement; the 1968 race riots that followed the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.; Black pride and the politics of skin color; and women’s rights and the industrial prison complex. At the same time, she reflected on her personal experiences, sharing what it was like to be a black woman in the 1960s and decades after. Born in Harlem, Ringgold, lives and works in New Jersey, where she continues to practice.

“The Flag is Bleeding” is part of a series called American People that Ringgold began in 1963. The 20 paintings depict various subjects – male and female, black and white – in a variety of scenarios that take into account racial tensions. .

This February, the New Museum will present “Faith Ringgold: American People”, the artist’s first comprehensive retrospective in New York. More than 60 works will be presented, including “The Flag is Bleeding”. The painting is currently on display in a Ringgold retrospective at the Glenstone Museum, until today, October 24. (Glenstone in Potomac, Maryland, was founded by Emily and Mitch Rales. Mitch is chairman of the board of the National Gallery of Art.)

While visiting the exhibit before it opened in Glenstone, Ringgold stopped by before “The Flag Bleeds” and explained what the painting is about and what motivated her to do so.

“We thought the American flag was our symbol of freedom, but we were losing our freedoms in the 1960s. All the blood was lying on the sidewalk. Nothing about it in the papers. I mean silence, as if it hadn’t happened, ”she said. “It is very difficult to paint blood because it feels like you are bleeding. The flag was bleeding and maybe it still is. CT

SEE MORE See Faith Ringgold visit her retrospective at Glenstone and discuss the works on display, many of which are seen for the first time in decades.

VIEW MORE Discover Baltimore-based artist Amani Lewis, explore Ringgold’s retrospective at Glenstone. Lewis, who describes Ringgold as “radically black” was a guide at the Museum in Potomac, Md., For three years.

LEARN MORE The National Gallery of Art acquired other works by African-American artists in 2021, including “Palmer River” (1885) by Edward Mitchell Bannister (c. 1828-1901); “SONG OF SOLOMON 5:16 – BE BEEWORLD: BE B BOY B GIRL…” by Rozeal (formerly Iona Rozeal Brown); Joe Minter’s “Unlocked Chain” (1998); “Echoes for Marian” (2014) by Carrie Mae Weems; “Untitled” (nd) and “Untitled (framed half-squares four patch)” (1989/1990), two quilts by Rosie Lee Tompkins; and a promised gift, “110th Street Harlem Blues”, 1972 collage by Romare Bearden.

BOOKSHELF
Serpentine Galleries has published a catalog to accompany “Faith Ringgold”. Glenstone is producing an extended version of the catalog, to be released in December. “Faith Ringgold: Die” provides the backstory for the fascinating painting “American People # 20: Die” (1967) by Faith Ringgold, which was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in 2016. “American People, Black Light: Faith Ringgold’s Paintings of the 1960s “coincided with her traveling exhibition.” Dancing at the Louvre: Faith Ringgold’s French Collection and Other Story Quilts “documented an exhibition of the same name and was the first publication devoted to her quilting work. Ringgold’s early activism is documented in Susan E. Cahan’s book, “Mounting Frustration: The Art Museum in the Age of Black Power.” His work is also featured in two catalogs for a large exhibition documenting the experiences of artists. black women (We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-1985: “Sourcebook” and “New Perspectives”), and the great variety of African ways. American artists expressed themselves in the 1960s and 1970s (“Soul of to Nat ion: Art in the Age of Black Power ”). Ringgold has also written and illustrated numerous children’s books, including “Tar Beach”, “Harlem Renaissance Party” and “We Came to America”.

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