THE BIRD, THE BANNER AND UNCLE SAM: Images of America in Folk and Popular Art by Elinor Lander Horwitz

THE BIRD, THE BANNER AND UNCLE SAM: Images of America in Folk and Popular Art

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Once again Horwitz has put together an engaging demonstration of American folk art's charm and variety, though this does not have the appeal and vitality of Mountain People, Mountain Crafts (1974) and Contemporary American Folk Artists (1975). For one thing, the emphasis is on the object and/or the tradition, not the artist (e.g., there's a one-paragraph sketch of Charlie Field and his red, white, and blue house, but he was treated at much greater length in the 1975 book); also the subject here encompasses, as Horwitz puts it, not only ""some folk art of considerable charm inspired by heartfelt patriotism"" but also some ""tasteless kitsch manufactured in a totally unharnessed commercial spirit."" However there is undeniable curiosity value in the ads and cereal boxes, recruitment posters and commemorative glass and china, not to mention a Bicentennial Braniff plane decorated by Alexander Calder and a porcelain toilet seat molded in an eagle design--just one of a number of eagles here, presumably an inspiring image despite the pronouncement of Benjamin Franklin, who favored the turkey, that ""he is a bird of bad moral character."" Here too are an eclectic array of Miss Liberties (she seems to inspire the silliest tributes), a sampling of stars-and-stripes motifs, and a number of representations of presidents, including one of JFK and Mussolini side by side in their coffins. Overall, a browser's resource, with historical/descriptive commentary.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1976
Publisher: Lippincott