NEW GLORY BANNER, 1999

oil on canvas
91.5 x 60 in.
(232.4 x 152.4 cm.)

The painting New Glory Banner revisits a subject that Indiana first approached in 1963, in a limited edition felt banner distributed through Multiples, Inc. The artist’s earliest reworking of the American flag, also titled New Glory Banner, is a rectangle of red and white stripes with a blue circle of white stars in the center, a format that allows for the work to be displayed in a vertical or horizontal alignment. Indiana produced subsequent versions of the banner in felt, all retaining the original design, but departing from the American flag-based color scheme. A version in black, red and yellow, the colors of the German flag, became his “German-American flag,” and a red, blue and green version, based on the colors of his original LOVE painting, his “Vietnam-American flag.” [1]

Indiana was not, however, simply experimenting with the formal qualities of the American flag; his New Glory Banner series has a distinct political message. This is seen both in the pentagonal alignment of the stars, an allusion to the Pentagon, and the inclusion of an extra star, a commentary on America’s empire building. The particular meaning attributed to the 51st star has, however, varied. Indiana explained that the additional star in his “Vietnam-American flag,” a work intended as an oblique protest to the Vietnam War, infers that the United States was possibly making Vietnam the 51st state [2], while an article in The Des Moines Register discussing a red, black and white version at Grinnell College notes that the 51st star represents the Pentagon building [3].

In his painting New Glory Banner Indiana returns to the original red, white and blue color scheme, but employs a design that departs slightly from that of the felt banners, with a smaller circle of stars now placed in upper half of the flag. The stars still number 51, emphasizing the continuation of American imperialism. Social criticism and political commentary form a thread throughout much of Indiana’s work, and in New Glory Banner the artist revisits an earlier design to make a currently relevant political statement. This is also illustrated by his 2001 painting Afghanistan, which closely follows the format of his 1965 The Confederacy Series.

 

[1] Letter to Alfred Schemla dated Mary 21, 1966, Galerie Schmela Records, 1923-2006, Getty Research Institute

[2] Interview with Robert Indiana, May 4, 1992, Susan Elizabeth Ryan, Ph.D., Robert Indiana: Figures of Speech Archive, 1987-2005

[3] “Banners at Grinnell,” The Des Moines Register, December 13, 1962, 2

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1945
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1945
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1945
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1945
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1945
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500

1945
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1945
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1955-56/1989
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1957/1959
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1957/2005
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1959
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1960
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1960
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1960
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1960
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1960
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1960
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1960
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1960
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1960-1961
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1960-1962
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1960-1962
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1960-1962
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1960-1962
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1960-1962
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1961
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1961
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1961
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1961
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1961
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1961/1984
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1962
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1962
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1962
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1962
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1962
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1962
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1962
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1962
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1962
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1962
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1963
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1963-1964
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1964
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1964
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1965
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1965
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1965
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1965
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1965
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1965
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1965
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1965
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1965
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1965
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1966
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1966
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1966
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1966/2006
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1967
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1970
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1972-2001
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1977
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1981
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1984
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1990
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1992
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1997
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1998-2006
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2000