Los Angeles

Robert Longo

Linda Cathcart Gallery

Robert Longo’s “Black Flags” operate on the viewer like black holes. At first glance these objects are sullen, indecipherable, and opaque. On closer inspection, however, they reveal themselves as references to flags that seem to have been freeze-framed as they flap in the wind; they appear soft, as if indeed made of canvas, and the stars, stripes, and stitching are all discernible. In point of fact, each work consists of a bronze cast, made by the lost wax method, of a genuine American flag.

Though these works seem to collapse inward both literally and textually, they are, nonetheless, freighted with narrative implications. Each vortex in these pieces operates like a tractor beam on the imagination. The associations to Jasper Johns’ flag paintings are inescapable, in particular to the epochal White Flag, 1955. In the monochromatic flags Johns happened on the device of giving subject and

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the April 1991 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.