Lost America, 1989<img alt="" src="/sites/GovernorsMansion/Exhibitions/PublishingImages/Art-of-Illinois/Brown-Lost-America.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />Lost America, 1989<div class="ExternalClassC475705026614F67B47A6C5127959B21"><p>Hands clasped behind his back and gaze averted, a thoughtful Abraham Lincoln strides across a shallow stage-like space in Roger Brown's painting Lost America. His pose recalls the popular image of the martyred sixteenth president, a compassionate man burdened by the tragedy of the Civil War, as a Christ-like Man of Sorrows. Lincoln's universal, rather than historical, identity is further emphasized by the surreal setting, with its perfectly symmetrical twin ailanthus trees (known for their toughness, invasive habit, and rank odor) under a stylized yellow-and-white sky. Without his example of moral leadership in the face of contemporary social inequity and racial injustice, the title implies, America is lost indeed. To underscore Lincoln's symbolic significance for the nation, Brown painted the Stars and Stripes of the American flag on the canvas strip frame.<br></p><p>Especially after the advent of the AIDS crisis in the early 1980s, Brown's art was deeply attuned to the political and social issues of the time, from militarism and the savings and loan debacle to the homogenization of mass culture and the challenges of living as a gay man in America. Brown couched his bitingly critical but also subtly humorous commentary in a style inspired by vernacular art and popular culture imagery, of which he was an avid collector. The influence of billboards and circus banners, with their boldly simplified, powerfully persuasive imagery, is evident in his icon-like</p><p>image of Lincoln. Brown painted several satirical images of contemporary world leaders and</p><p>historical figures.</p><p>Brown was a native Alabamian who was profoundly sensitive to his family's Southern heritage. He studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and emerged in the late 1960s as a major figure in the homegrown artistic movement known as Chicago Imagism. Inspired by so-called outsider art and pop culture, Imagist art is characterized by personal fantasy, irreverent satire, and grotesque distortion used to unsettling effect.<br></p></div>GP0|#8b52334d-f9e6-4dfe-8075-858af93b65b5;L0|#08b52334d-f9e6-4dfe-8075-858af93b65b5|Roger Brown;GTSet|#6a9f5109-021d-478a-ae73-864102492159;GPP|#9d68cbd3-25f3-49f0-8924-6cbe6cdb2f21;GPP|#be65f490-4890-487c-bb16-c396d99511f7Art;#TemporaryPainting Oil;#Painting Oil on Canvas;#Painted Wood Frame;#Atlanta, GeorgiaOil on canvas, painted wood frame, 86 × 49 ¾ inches Chicago History Museum, Museum Purchase, Photo courtesy of The School of the Art Institute and the Brown Family