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Guided Tours





American Dream, American Nightmare

Brett Whiteley, The American Dream

15 August 2015 - 15 February 2016

the dream: 15 Aug - 15 Nov 2015

the nightmare: 21 Nov 2015 - 15 Feb 2016

CLOSED: 16 - 20 Nov 2015

American dream, American nightmare is a two-part display that focuses on one of the Collection’s most iconic and most requested works, Brett Whiteley’s The American dream 1968-1969.

This major, 18 part installation has not been seen at the Gallery since 2004 and it is looking better than ever: the work has recently received major conservation treatment prior to its inclusion in the major survey of Australian and international Pop art Pop to Popism at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Whiteley’s work is a dynamic visual summation of his experiences in America, that charts his initial passion for the place, his intense responses to the politics and culture, and his powerful desire to leave it all behind. It is therefore a meditation on the crumbling of Whiteley own romantic dream of what America might offer him and a reflection on a society torn apart by its involvement in the Vietnam war and the assassinations of John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Martin Luther King.

The first version of the display, the dream, complemented Whiteley’s work with British artist David Hockney’s Hogarth-inspired, set of 16 prints, A Rake’s Progress 1961-1963. This work tells, in a dreamlike way, the story of his personally tumultuous time as a young artist in America. He enters the country full of hope and optimism and leaves it as a rake, dissolute and softened by his encounters.

The second version of the display, the nightmare, presents darker, more political works by American artists, such as Leon Golub, to bring out the nightmare feel of the American dream in general and Whiteley’s The American dream in particular.

The American Dream detail The American Dream detail The American Dream detail The American Dream detail

Guided Tours | FREE

American dream, American nightmare

2pm, Saturday 15, 22 & 29 August

2pm, Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays in September
2pm, Thursday 1 & 8 October; Sunday 4 & 11 October

Brett Whiteley
The American dream 1968-69
oil, tempera, collage, photography and objects on eighteen wooden panels
244 x 2196 cm
State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia
Purchased 1978
© State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia



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