Motif Monday: Memorial Day, Gordon Parks, Poppies

Respectfully thinking about art that helps us celebrate, remember, remind and reflect every family who has suffered a loss in service.

Five reds five  whites five blues
Donald Sultan Five Reds, Five Whites, Five Blues, 2008 color silkscreen with enamel, flocking and tar like texture
Gordon Parks, Library of Congress, 1943 photograph, Gloucester policemen, Memorial Day Ceremonies

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place, and in the sky,

The larks, still bravely singing, fly,

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead; short days ago

We lived, felt  dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

in Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe!

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high!

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields. 

John McCrae, 18721918

Veteran of the Boer War and WWI, a teacher, and doctor, Canadian John McCrae wrote In Flanders Fields in the spring of 1915 while still at the bloody battlefront in Ypres, Belgium, in an area known as Flanders. The Germans had already used deadly gas. Dr. McCrae had been tending to hundreds of wounded daily. He described the nightmare slaughter: “behind it all was the constant background of the sights of the dead, the wounded, the maimed.” By this time he had already devoted his life to art and healing. He couldn’t save his friends. How could anyone?  Twenty years prior, he sketched poppies during his medical residency in Maryland. He published poems and stories by the time he was 16.  I’m not surprised he noticed the brilliant fragile petals and horror. He wrote for those who couldn’t speak and those who had to see. Meningitis and pneumonia killed him January 1918 after several months battling asthma and bronchitis. His poem and the emblematic poppy continue to inspire and comfort.

A few poppy images follow. I was thinking about their poetic illumination before and after WW1 and layers of meaning and beauty.

John McCrae sketch book 1896, Maryland
John McCrea sketchbook, ca.1896, Maryland

Paul Cummins blood swept lands and seas of red tower of london 2014 ceramic poppy
Paul Cummins, Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, 2014, Tower of London, individual cast ceramic poppies fill the moat  (photo during installation in progress) commission to mark 100 years since the first full day of Britain’s involvement in WWI
Monet poppy field in a hollow near giverny 1888 mfa
Monet, Poppy Field in a Hollow near Giverny, 1888,  Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

More representations of poppies in art

Childe Hassam (American, 1859 – 1935 ), Poppies, Isles of Shoals, 1891, oil on canvas, Gift of Margaret and Raymond Horowitz 1997.135.1, National Gallery. Hassam was born in Dorchester, MA.
Kiefer large poppy painting
Anselm Kiefer
Emile Nolde Red and Yellow Poppies with a Blue Dephinium c. 1930 40
Emil Nolde, Red and Yellow Poppies with a Blue Delphinium, c.1930/40,  National Gallery
Otto Marseus van Schrieck, c.1670, o/c, Metropolitan Museum of Art
John Singer Sargent, 1886, private collection
Hiroshige Poppy and Sparrow MET
Hiroshige Poppy and Sparrow, ca, 1833, Metropolitan Museum of Art
O'Keefe 1927 Red Poppy stamp 1996
Georgia O’Keefe 1927 Red Poppy painting is in a private collection ( popular was selected for a stamp and posters)
Cassatt Field of Poppies Philadelphia Museum of Art
Victor Gabriel Gilbert (formerly attributed to Cassatt) Field of poppies, c.1880, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Kiyoshi Saito red poppies 1948 color woodcut w gouache.jpg
Kiyoshi Saito Red poppies, 1948 color woodcut with gouache
klimt-mohnblumenwiese-1907 Belvedere Museum Vienna
Klimt,1907,  Belvedere Museum, Vienna
Robert_Vonnoh_-_Coquelicots Butler museum of art
Robert Vonnoh In Flanders Field Where Soldiers Sleep and Poppies Grow (Coquelicots) 1890, Butler Museum of Art
Vincent_van_Gogh_-_Poppy_field_-_Google_Art_Project hague 1890
Van Gogh 1890- in the Hague collection
paul cummins  A view from the Shard of Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, Paul Cummins’s installation in the Tower of London. Photograph by Hannah McKayEPA Photograph Hannah McKayEPA
A View from the Shard of Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, Paul Cummins’ installation in the Tower of London, July – November 2014. Photograph by Hannah McKay, EPA

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