American Dream, American Nightmare
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.
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