Examining the American Dream

In 1931, while America was still in the grips of the Great Depression, writer James Truslow Adams popularized the term “American dream” in his best-selling nonfiction book, “The Epic of America.” Adams defined the term to mean the achievement of economic and personal success for members of every class through hard work, “unhampered by the barriers which … [have] slowly erected in older civilizations;” but the concept has been cemented in American ideology and ethos since the founding of the country.

In June, a collection of works by 56 artists active from the 1980s on was curated by Massimiliano Gioni, the artistic director of the New Museum in New York and exhibited at the Aïshti Foundation in Beirut.

Good Dreams, Bad Dreams: American Mythologies Book Cover

Now the exhibition, which examined the myth and meaning of the American Dream, will be reproduced in a new coffee table book, planned to be released this month by Rizzoli. Edited by Massimiliano Gioni—who is also artistic director of the New Museum in New York, and was director of the Venice Biennale in 2013—“Good Dreams, Bad Dreams: American Mythologies” highlights a group of artists across the generations who analyze, through their work, American pop culture and the dramatic changes in the cultural and artistic landscape of America from the 1980s to the present day. “Good Dreams, Bad Dreams: American Mythologies” features important works by 20th and 21st century artists including Lutz Bacher, Rachel Harrison, Klara Lidén, Joyce Pensato, Amanda Ross-Ho, George Condo, David Salle and Julian Schnabel, among others. (rizzoliusa.com)

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