Who's Afraid of Red, White, and Blue? Works by Donald Lipski

November 9–December 21, 1990
Beaver College Art Gallery


In all of this work, the flag as a discrete object symbolizing the nation's idea of liberty and justice has been taken on by the aritst to test those very liberties for which it is meant to stand.

– Eileen Neff
From Objects of Their Own Accord, an essay from the exhibition publication

If the flag is a symbol, it is a symbol of a society where artists can do what they want. It rubs me the wrong way to be told making art out of one object is sacrosanct.

– Donald Lipski

The Beaver College Art Gallery, in collaboration with The Fabric Workshop and The University of the Arts, will present "Who's Afraid of Red, White, and Blue?," simultaneous exhibitions by noted New York sculptor Donald Lipski. on display from November 9 through December 21, 1990. A public reception and opening for all three exhibitions will be held on November 9 from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM at The Univesity of the Arts. Lipski will discuss the exhibition and his other works in a public lecture at Beaver College on November 11 at 4:30 PM in the Stiteler Auditorium, located on the campus at Church and Easton Roads. Both events are open to the public and free of charge.

Installation view.

Since the mid-seventies, Lipski has utilized his remarkable formal intelligence to transform the mundane identities of a variety of found and purchased materials ranging from the smallest domestic articles to industrial supplies and hardware. These objects undergo various manipulations — weaving, stacking, wrapping, joining — and are structured within simple configurations that combine the iconic simplicity of a minimalist presence with the unexpected, often revelatory wit of a surrealist sensibility.

"Who's Afraid of Red, White, and Blue? Works by Donald Lipski," Arrangement of Gallery Interior, November 1990

In his most recent series, "Who's Afraid of Red, White, and Blue?", Lipski applies his familiar creative strategies to a new subject — the American flag. Works from this series will be simultaneously on view at Beaver College Art Gallery, The Fabric Workshop, and The University of the Arts and include several imaginative variations on this new theme. At Beaver College, Lipski will exhibit a large-scale, eight-foot in diameter wrapped flag ball on the campus with a complementary indoor exhibition of smaller-scaled flag balls. Other aspects of this project to be seen at the collaborating institutions include two-dimensional constructed, monochromatic and plaited flags of many different scales and materials. Lipski has been in residence at The Fabric Workshop, and many of these new works were constructed during his residence there. Other aspects of "Who's Afraid of Red, White, and Blue?" will be seen at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.

Donald Lipski (second from left),) installation staff, and Beaver College student volunteers assemble American Flag Ball #3 in front of the Benton Spruance Art Center, November 1990

According to Paula Marincola, director of Beaver College Art Gallery, "The Flag as both pop and political symbol has proved a fascinating subject for contemporary artists. Jasper John's flag paintings of the late fifties and sixties come immediately to mind, but Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and more recently, Vito Acconci and Robert Longo, among many other artists, have utilized this subject matter in various ways. The impetus for Lipski's imaginative reconstructions of the flag was partly motivated by his response to recent attempts to legislate its usage." "Lipski is a strong advocate of artistic freedom of expression and asserts that 'you can make art out of anything in the work, '" said Marincola.

Who's Afraid of Red, White, and Blue? Works by Donald Lipski," Construction of Flag Ball #3, November, 1990

"But his flag series is also a natural outgrowth of his longtime interest in subjecting found objects to a playful series of structural permutations that expand their metaphorical resonance and interpretive possibilities. He is emphatic that this latest work be viewed primarily in an aesthetic context, and it is from the application of a cool, essentially formalist methodology to the presentation of a highly charged image that this work derives its power."

Donald Lipski, American Flag Ball #3, 1990, installed in front of the Benton Spruance Art Center, November 1990

At Beaver, "Who's Afraid of Red, White, and Blue?" initiated the exhibition series "Counterparts", which presents simultaneous indoor / outdoor presentations by an individual artist whose work has both a public and private component. The exhibitions are funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Friends of Beaver College Art Gallery, ad the Beaver College Department of Fine Arts.