Roger Brown’s quirky, self-consciously American style of painting owes less to the traditions of “high art” than to the “low art” of popular culture-comic strips; the flat, hypnotic patterns of wallpaper; and the vivid creations of folk and naive artists. Finding much modern art irrelevant to real life, this Chicago artist painted provocative commentaries on current events and topical issues. In Brown’s American Landscape with Revolutionary Heroes, the artist lines up six of the nation’s founding fathers. They are, from left to right, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, James Madison, and John Marshall.
Solemnly posed within a shallow, stagelike space, the statesmen are cloaked in shadow. The landscape “backdrop” clearly suggests the “Stars and Stripes.” Overall, the mood is somber, even mournful, as if these heroes of yesteryear were making a final curtain call.
Tags: contemporary, American Revolution, social studies, silhouette
Roger Brown, American, 1941-1997. American Landscape with Revolutionary Heroes. 1983, oil on canvas, 84 x 144 inches., Purchased with funds from the Madeleine Johnson Heidrick Bequest. © The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Brown family.