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Öyvind Fahlström

Africa Banner

1966

Öyvind Fahlström is known for work that interweaves concrete poetry, Conceptual art, and Pop art. Often incorporating cartographic and diagrammatic forms. His work merges dense information with obsessive cartoon-like imagery and formal pictorial invention. Africa Banner comprises a rough rendering of Africa made from textiles; appearing less like a land mass and more like a collection of routes that form the shape of the continent, it is covered with crosses, hatches, and other insignia that seem to mark specific points. Employing a private artistic language, Fahlström codes the geographical condition of Africa with symbols not necessarily understandable to the viewer, but which suggest a multilayered history and complexity that make the whole difficult to grasp.

Öyvind Fahlström (b. 1928, São Paolo, Brazil; d. 1976, Stockholm, Sweden)
Africa Banner, 1966
Variable banner, silkscreen on felt and polyester, thread, and Velcro
72 x 70 in.
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Purchased with funds provided by the Acquisition and Collection Committee

For me, it has been important to demonstrate in my works that “heavy” art (not cartoons, etc.) can be critical and socially concerned. Of course, most heavy art is not a tool for political change. But artists can be (could be). Organize. Publish. Speak. Demonstrate. Strike. Work in community. —Öyvind Fahlström