Washington Crossing the Delaware: American Flag, Boat, and Soldiers

  • Alex Katz, Washington Crossing the Delaware: American Flag, Boat, and Soldiers, 1961, assembled, nailed, bolted, and screwed plywood painted in oil, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. David K. Anderson, Martha Jackson Memorial Collection, 1979.56.2A

Luce Center Label

In 1959, Alex Katz began painting figures on canvas, cutting them out and then pasting them onto wooden boards. Two years later the playwright Kenneth Koch saw an exhibition of these and asked Katz to produce the props and sets for his one-act play George Washington Crossing the Delaware. In Koch's satire, Washington’s famous crossing was motivated by his childhood when, after cutting down the cherry tree, the young Washington swam across a river to avoid his father's wrath. The play became an underground hit largely because of Katz's irreverent image of Washington.

Luce Object Quote
"I do not think that sets or costumes should decorate a play . . . Rather, they should interpret the spirit and present it as strongly as the play." Alex Katz, quoted in Sandler, "In the Art Galleries," New York Post, February 9, 1964
Title
Washington Crossing the Delaware: American Flag, Boat, and Soldiers
Artist
Date
1961
On View
Not on view.
Dimensions
79 1/4 x 103 1/2 x 18 1/2 in. (201.4 x 262.9 x 47.0 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. David K. Anderson, Martha Jackson Memorial Collection

Mediums
Mediums Description
assembled, nailed, bolted, and screwed plywood painted in oil
Classifications
Keywords
  • Figure group – male
  • Architecture – boat
  • Dress – uniform – military uniform
  • Occupation – military – soldier
  • History – United States – Revolution
  • Waterscape – river – Delaware River
  • Object – other – flag
Object Number
1979.56.2A
Palette
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

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