American Flag folk art
American Flag folk art is folk art that uses the U.S. flag as its inspiration.
Background and Description
Folk art is defined as items made with some degree of artistic purpose by a person lacking in formal artistic training.
The United States Flag has been used in folk art since its creation, following the establishment of the United States with the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
People across America proudly painted their new flag on various materials, often pieces of wood, metal, or textiles. They were created using recycled materials, such as cigar flannels, old parade flags, tin cans. This custom was repeated often throughout history, for events such as anniversary Independence Day celebrations.
During the 19th century, flag design was not so set in stone as it is now. Flags could have any shape or pattern, and be produced on any material. This makes flags produced by folk artists completely unique.
One well-known antique example is ‘Flag Gate’, by an unknown folk artist, created in 1876 likely for the centennial Independence Day celebrations. It is a flag painted on an old wooden gate, and is currently owned by the American Folk Art Museum in New York City.
Modern folk artists continue this tradition, using the flag and patriotism as their subject. A famous modern example is that of ‘Miller Family American Flag’ by Robert A Miller, a self-taught American folk artist. It is enamel painted on tin.
Collecting American Flag folk art
Collectors of American Flag folk art will generally either collect antique pieces, or modern-produced works. The antique items are generally more valuable, unless created by a famous modern folk artist such as Robert Miller.
They may also choose to focus on one or several mediums, those flags painted on wood, or woven tapestries and quilts.
Every single folk art American Flag is completely unique, making each of them exceptional items with no equivalent. This is where the value, and fascination lies.
American Flag folk art can usually be dated just as American Flags can: by the number of stars.
A large number of antique and folk art American Flags are sold by Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques.
The value of American Flag folk art can vary hugely dependant on how well known the folk artist was, how old the piece is, how well-known the story behind it is, and the condition the item is in.
Items of American Flag folk art have sold on eBay for a few hundred dollars. However, it is hard to be certain an item is genuine if it comes from such a source.
It speaks volumes that American Flag folk art has sold at the big auction houses for prices like $16,500 at Cowan’s Auctions in 2005, $25,850 at Christie’s in 2000, and $38,838 at Sotheby’s in 2002.
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