15 January 2021
15 January 2021
At a time when the question of America’s decline is being raised, when protest movements are springing up all over the country, many painters, photographers, street artists and creative people of all kinds are shattering the myth of the American Dream. A disillusionment and a satyr that can be found in the work of both prominent and emerging artists on Artsper, a platform for online contemporary art sales.
Since the 1960s, this dimmed dream has inspired artists who play with its clichés: the housewife, the ideal home, the colourful motel, the adulated flag… A pseudo-perfect plastic aesthetic, today used to denounce American failures.
Burger and fries
America has become a true source of inspiration, portrayed from every angle by a new artistic scene. The great names of street-art (Gomor, DN or Banksy) as well as the pioneers of figurative painting (James Earley) or digital art (Max Papeschi) denounce the excesses of consumerism, through ironic and falsely childish works. These committed artists can be found on Artsper, one of the international leaders in online art sales.
This satyr of America already existed in the 60’s through the works of major artists such as Tom Wesselmann, Robert Doisneau or Andy Warhol in a completely different genre. Between celebrating a wealthy America and overconsumption, they often paint an amusing portrait of an artificial planet that is both subversive and conformist.
American mid-century modern life inspires creative people. In 2001, the English photographer Richard Heeps set his lens on American Dream clichés from the 1940s and 50s. In a book entitled « Man’s Ruin », his highly colourful and saturated images show pin-up girls transformed into plastic dolls, closed motels and abandoned amusement parks. These outdated symbols depict another reality of the fantasized America of the fifties.
Thus, American chauvinism is derided by artists of all kinds. Leading the way is Martin Parr, who humorously denounces this kitsch patriotism by photographing the omnipresent flags, star spangled banners and colourful rosettes. A sharp and sometimes ironic look at a part of America.
In a disastrous social, health and economic context, artists are asserting themselves to denounce Donald Trump’s political excesses. The art scene depicts these social injustices, like Justin French in his political photography series « The Unwilling Martyrs » which addresses the « Black Lives Matter » movement. British artist Banksy also expresses his anger towards racial discrimination and police violence, paying tribute to George Floyd with a new work shared on Instagram last June.
The political stance is also displayed on catwalks: the models of Tommy Hilfiger’s SS18 parade, led by Bella Hadid, wore the famous white cotton square as a sign of protest. A bandana to express to the world their values of tolerance, regardless of race, sexuality, gender or religion.
The American Dream is also hijacked by big names like Jeremy Scott, artistic director of the Italian brand Moschino. For his FW Collection 18-19 he has fun displaying an army of Jacky Kennedy. Inspired by the timeless elegance of the First Lady and a conspiracy theory around President JFK, he revisits his iconic suit in vibrant, tangy and kitschy colours.
The seventh art is inspired by a standardised America with decors that give pride of place to die-cut houses, roads without pavements, and a landscape of garage doors. In this aseptic setting, the directors capture the hysteria of the upper-class American class as well as social misery.
As unwholesome as they are pleasing, these directors also offer us the other side of the coin: an America left aside by Donald Trump through the satyrs of society transposed into sad and wacky worlds.
American consumerism is criticized both on screen and in the city, but also in the middle of the Texan desert. There, along the US Route 90, the Danish duo Elmgreen + Dragset has set up its « Prada Marfa » sculpture shop. This fake shop, still closed, was thought to question the consumer society. An artistic installation reflecting our times.
The myth of the conquest of the West is crumbling… Continuing the road from the desert, photographer Ed Freeman, present on Artsper, sheds light on these abandoned motels, diners and gas stations in a series of photographs entitled « Western Realty ». A road trip that depicts a ghostly America.
The sunny America of swimming pools, palm trees and colourful motels is also criticised by the creative duo Isabel and Helen. Inspired by David Hockney, their installation « No Diving » plays with the Californian oasis: foam deckchairs, confetti pool, cardboard palm trees, surrealism takes visitors to a revisited version on the Palm Springs of the 60’s. Immersed in this same universe, the singer Beyoncé exaggerates the image of the pin-up girl in « Why don’t you love me ».