Key Ideas about this Work of Art
- This large-scale oil painting depicts the silhouettes of six American Founding Fathers. The figures appear to be standing on a stage, in front of an illuminated background that resembles the first American flag.
- Artist Roger Brown’s work was influenced by comic books, wallpaper patterns, and movie theaters. He often used his art to comment on current events.
- Brown was one of the Chicago Imagists. This group of artists used bright colors, bold lines, and distorted shapes.
- The painting’s title refers to the Founding Fathers as heroes. These men helped to build the United States as a new country, but their legacy is complicated. They lived and worked during the period of slavery in America, and many of them owned enslaved people.
This oil painting is seven feet tall and 12 feet wide. It features the silhouettes of six Founding Fathers of the United States. The figures are (from left to right) Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, James Madison, and John Marshall. The men appear to be lined up on a stage, in front of a striped background and 13 tree shapes. The background design looks similar to the first American flag. The first flag featured a star for each of the 13 states.
Artist Roger Brown found inspiration for his work in comic books, wallpaper patterns, and movie theater architecture. He was also influenced by folk art, naïve art, and art deco styles. Brown was part of a group of artists known as the Chicago Imagists. These artists were known for their use of bright colors, bold lines, and distorted shapes. Brown’s work often combined fantasy with social and political commentary.
The title of this painting refers to the Founding Fathers as “heroes.” They helped to build the United States of America as a new country. They wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, to define how the government would work. They were the country’s first lawmakers and leaders. They believed that America should be based on ideas of freedom, equality, and democracy. The legacy of the Founding Fathers is complicated, however. They lived and worked during the time of slavery in America. Many of them owned enslaved people. The government they built allowed slavery to continue for years.
Tags: contemporary, American Revolution, social studies, silhouette
Resources for Teachers
- Read an article about Roger Brown.
- Explore a webpage about the Chicago Imagists and view examples of their art.
- Read an article and watch a video about slavery at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
Resources for Students