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Maker(s):Saunders, Raymond
Culture:American (1934- )
Title:American Dream
Date Made:1968
Materials:Oil and collage on canvas
Measurements:Frame: 70 in x 41 3/4 in x 1 5/8 in; 177.8 cm x 106 cm x 4.1 cm; Stretcher: 69 1/4 in x 41 in; 175.9 cm x 104.1 cm
Narrative Inscription:  NA
Accession Number:  MH 1970.300.I(b).PI
Credit Line:Gift of the American Academy of Arts and Letters (Childe Hassam Fund)
Museum Collection:  Mount Holyoke College Art Museum

Vertical canvas divided horizontally with band of red; newspaper clipping at top with image of male and female standing in front of automobile; American Flag; bluish gestural brushstrokes in lower register.

Label Text:
Across swirling gestural marks resembling erased blackboard chalk, Raymond Saunders collages torn newspapers about military training and the 1967 presidential primary. Saunders was a forerunner in the turn from Abstract Expressionism towards more politically charged art-making in the 1960s. The topmost image of a man and woman in historic dress was taken from a men’s clothing ad. The original ad boasts the rich quality of its affordably-priced suits and asks: “How could she know he wasn’t a millionaire’s son?” Made-over like clowns with red circles on their cheeks, the man and woman appear as fools of a consumer culture that undermines the “American dream” of equal opportunity and success through hard work.

-Jaime Pagana, Curatorial Assistant, Mount Holyoke College Art Museum (Sept. 2016)

Raymond Saunders’s work is never as straightforward as
what you see. Hidden within his apparent modernist
abstractions are deeply held concerns about racial relations in the United States, as hinted by the ironic title of this painting.


collages; African American; flags

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