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Gun Play

Smithsonian American Art Museum
Rico Gatson appropriated the familiar imagery of pop-culture cinema in his 2001 video, Gun Play. It is an arresting collage that mixes sequences from Jack Hill’s 1974 blaxploitation film Foxy Brown and Sergio Leone’s epic spaghetti western The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, from 1966. Here Gatson composes a kaleidoscope of cult references and Hollywood clichés that confront the mesmerizing power of mainstream media.

Watch This!: Revelations in Media Art, 2015

Space Gun Drawing

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gun in America (mechanicals)

National Portrait Gallery

Boy with Toy Gun

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Antique Gun Firing

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Articulated Sailor with Gun

Smithsonian American Art Museum

America Under the Gun

National Portrait Gallery

Gun in America

National Portrait Gallery
The assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy in the spring of 1968 unleashed a heated debate over America’s passion for personal firearms and the ease with which anyone could procure a rifle or pistol. By late June, Time magazine was reporting on this debate in its cover story, which focused on, among other things, the mounting cry for new curbs on citizens’ rights to bear firearms. The story caught people’s attention, and the magazine received countless pieces of mail from readers.

Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein created a vivid, riveting cover for the issue. He had long recognized the gun as an important element in American culture, and his image for Time was simply a variant of the pistol-gripping hand that he had produced on a felt banner several years earlier.

Los asesinatos de Martin Luther King Jr. y Robert F. Kennedy en la primavera de 1968 desataron un candente debate en torno a la pasión de los estadounidenses por las armas de fuego para uso personal y lo fácil que resultaba para cualquiera obtener un rifle o una pistola. A fines de junio, Time cubrió esta controversia como tema de portada, analizando entre otros puntos el creciente reclamo de nuevos frenos al derecho de portar armas. El reportaje acaparó la atención de los lectores, a juzgar por el volumen de cartas que recibió la revista.

La vívida portada que creó el artista pop Roy Lichtenstein para esta edición también causó impacto. Lichtenstein llevaba tiempo trabajando la imagen de la pistola como elemento importante de la cultura estadounidense. Su imagen para Time fue una variante de la mano con pistola que había creado para un cartelón de fieltro años antes.

Gas Gun Billy Club

National Museum of American History

After Gun LCI [painting] / (photographed by Peter A. Juley & Son)

Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum
Department of the Navy, Naval Historical Center, 2012.

Black-and-white study print (8x10).

Orig. negative: 4x5, Safety, BW.

Female with a Gun [drawing] / (photographed by Peter A. Juley & Son)

Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum
Title supplied by cataloger.

Black-and-white study print (8x10).

Orig. negative: 8x10, Safety, BW.

copy 1 negative: Safety, BW.

Rest, Shoulder, Recoilless Gun, 2.5", Davis, Felixstowe F-5-L

National Air and Space Museum
C-shaped metal shoulder rest, lined with rubber hose, attached to metal mounting arm, for 2.5" Davis gun on Felixstowe F-5-L.

Machine Guns

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gang War

National Portrait Gallery

La Llamarada (The Drum)

National Portrait Gallery

Vicksburg Canal

National Portrait Gallery

Joe Louis Barrow

National Portrait Gallery
Heavyweight champion Joe Louis was so popular in the 1930s, according to reporter Earl Brown, that "his huge picture in fighting togs" adorned many African American community gathering spots. Different fighting togs but the same popular appeal made for an extremely effective government war poster, utilizing only the dramatically posed figure, an inspirational quote, and a vivid blue background. The poster does not attempt to recruit troops, sell war bonds, or encourage hard work in the factories. It is a general message to fellow black Americans to "do our part." Louis himself, who had turned down a commission when he enlisted in the army, helped to integrate athletic programs, boxed in exhibition matches to entertain the troops, and helped to raise money for military relief funds. At the end of the war, the army commended him for "exceptionally meritorious service."

John Burns

National Portrait Gallery

Fight at Santa Rosa Island

National Portrait Gallery

John Burns

National Portrait Gallery

Death of Lieutenant Henry Clay Jr.

National Portrait Gallery

Camp Scene/New York 7th Regiment

National Portrait Gallery

Civil War Camp Scenes

National Portrait Gallery
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