The Delightful History of the Lawn Flamingo

Don Featherstone might not be a household name, but his life’s work is wildly famous worldwide. Featherstone, just after graduating art school in 1957, created the pink plastic flamingo—undeniably one of the world’s most popular lawn ornaments. Reproduced over 20 million times, Phoenicopterus ruber plasticus (as its creator called it) is more than a kitsch decoration, as Artsy’s Alexxa Gotthardt writes, it’s “a barometer of taste; the brunt of jokes; the city of Madison, Wisconsin’s official bird; a symbol of LGBTQ pride; and the titular inspiration for a fabulously naughty 1972 cult film by John Waters” and so much more. Originally sold in pairs through the Sears catalog (for $2.76 a set), the playful ornament reflected its sculptor who used to say, “Don’t take yourself too seriously, because you’re not getting out alive anyway.” Read more about the plastic flamingo and Featherstone at Artsy.