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Flamingos are one of the most beautiful creatures on the planet. Their elegance has inspired some incredible artwork over the centuries.
There are records of ancient civilizations creating homages to the fabulous fowl. At the Sabratha Roman ruins in Libya, flamingos can be clearly seen painted onto the floor of a church. A wonderfully intricate mosaic of the beautiful bird can be found at the synagogue of Gaza Maiumas. The funerary chapel of Polieyctos in what is now Istanbul and the basilica of Qasr Elbia in Libya also host artworks that display flamingos. Each of these pieces date back to the 5th and 6th centuries.
The love for flamingos within human art has continued since. For example, French-American self-trained artist John James Audubon painted one of the most famous images of the fabulous fowl ever, American Flamingo, in 1838. But the bird did have a dip in popularity for a while before resurging in a major way in the United States in the mid-1900s. Don Featherstone’s pink plastic lawn flamingo was a huge hit, and it brought the pink bird to the forefront of the American psyche.
Flamingos have risen further in popularity in art in recent times, in and out of America. In 1974, Alexander Calder’s Flamingo was unveiled in Chicago, a massive structure in one of the country’s premier cities paying homage to the fabulous fowl. In 2022, the Tampa International Airport opened a giant flamingo sculpture in its Main Terminal, originally named HOME because of the bird’s native history in the Sunshine State.
It’s not all been gargantuan replicas of flamingos, though. Some outstandings paintings that have flamingos as center parts of their core message have been done in recent years, such as Natalia Rezanova’s Birds of the Morning Dawn (2015) and Dominc Virtosu’s Social Distancing (2021). Each of these works utilize the elegance and uniqueness of the fabulous fowl to issue onlookers with messages that are best served by the beautiful bird.
As more and more people become attuned to the unforgettable nature of the fabulous fowl, the bird’s influence in art should continue to grow. Art imitates life; the more we bring these birds into our lives, the more they will appear in our cultural works.
And like with anything else in life, if there’s not enough flamingo art in the world for your liking, then be the change you want to see in the world! Get a paper and pencil and start drawing a flamingo. The more you practice, the better you’ll become, and maybe one day your work will be mentioned in an article like this!