The American Dream through art

34 réflexions au sujet de « The American Dream through art »

  1. The document that I will present you is an art work by Matthew Campi.
    link :
    The artist wanted to show a « typical American family ». However, each member of the family has a gun, even the dog! The father is cooking. Indeed he is grilling some meats with his revolver.
    It shows that American need to always bear an arm to feel himself safe.

    In my opinion, American dream doesn’t represent this vision. In fact, I think the American dream is just the fact that we can make a better success story in this country.

  2. The artwork I have chosen to define my vision of the American dream is the F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece : “The Great Gatsby”. As you perhaps know, “The Great Gatsby” is built upon the language of rebellion, of societal challenge.

    The American Dream is originally about the discovery of happiness, but during the 1920s, this dream has become perverted with some desires and one mistake: “money will bring happiness”.

    F. Scott Fitzgerald doesn’t use the words “American Dream” in the novel, but it is evident that he shows the impossibility of achieving happiness through the American Dream. The author demonstrates that the American Dream is supposed to stand for independence and the ability to make something with hard work, but finally, it seems more materialism and selfish pursuit of pleasure withfor instance Gatsby’s parties, alcohol etc

    I wanted to focus on one symbol in this novel : the “Green Light”. Indeed, in “The Great Gatsby”, the “Green light” is one of the major symbols. It represents Gatsby’s hopes and dreams for the future. Green can be interpreted to symbolize new life and growth.

    Here, you can see a picture taken from the movie with Leonardo DiCaprio who is watching the “Green light” :

    To conclude, the “Green light” represents different facet of the American Dream : money, love and happiness for example.

    Thank you for reading !

  3. You can find the piece of art that represents for me the American dream on the following link:
    The document is a painting on a wall in Chinatown in Boston in May 2011. This nearly black and white painting was designed by Banksy, a well-know street artist. On this painting you can see the sentence “follow your dreams” in capital black letters with the word “cancelled” written in red on it as to scratch it. On the right of this sentence there is an old man who seems to be a stickman with some other papers roll under his arm, a brush in one hand and a seal maybe filled with glue in the other hand.
    Street art is illegal but it is very powerful to support causes because everybody can see it freely. Banksy wants to deliver a message about his vision of the American dream in this committed painting. He wants to urge people to have an active life because he thinks that there is no miracle in life. Indeed the sentence in black letters represents the idea of the American dream and the word “cancelled”, written on it, is very strong and powerful, it means that the American dream doesn’t exist anymore. Besides, the artist plays with the color, indeed the red of the “cancelled” point out it and it gives to him the shape of an official buffer. Therefore the American dream is dead and it is a classified file, we need to see forward. Lastly, the sad stickman is a way to shows that now the American dream is inaccessible, we will run after him and wait for a miracle but we will grow old and stay sad.
    To put it in a nutshell, this piece of art denounces American dream which is obsolete and urge us to take in hand our life.

  4. Hello everyone,

    I took this picture
    We can see on this picture that the paper containing the « American Dream » is burning.

    I associated that with the citation of Thomas Edison, who said : « Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like hard work ».
    This saying by Thomas Edison is a good reminder of why people believe the “American Dream” is or has been dead. We often hear of people who have made millions in America and have started with nothing more than The way they suffered before getting to this point.
    This belief has been around for centuries and is reinforced with every new success story we hear of immigrants who had very little when they started and today enjoy a very luxurious lifestyle because of what they refer to as the, “Land of opportunity.”
    That’s why that in a common mannerthe American Dream is the ability to get rich quicker than in other places.

    Then, the true meaning of opportunity has changed for most, and when they are unfortunately exposed to money as the only measure of success, it is only normal that they associate money with the only reward of opportunity.
    So It has changed because we have associated the American Dream this past decade with the opportunity to make money, rather than the opportunity to try to work hard and see the result of such work be prosperous.

    The American Dream may look different today than it did 40 years ago, it is still very much alive, although it has changed a lot in the past five years alone. In today’s world, opportunity no longer looks like employment in the conventional sense, especially since a formal education has no guarantee of employment.

    However, Trump said : »The American Dream is dead. But if I get elected president I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before and we will make America great again. »
    So perhaps, there’s still some hope, but nowadays, the dream is burning.

    Trump has said, »The American Dream is dead. But if I get elected president I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before and we will make America great again. »

  5. For the subject of American dream to art I choose the movie « Little Miss Sunshine ».
    It was released in 2006 and was made by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris.
    To me it really represent the « modern American dream ». Indeed, the American dream tells us that if you work hard enough you can live an ideal life style. This idea of the American dream is dead, I think that you don’t have more chance to quench your thirst for money in the US than any rich country.
    In Little Miss Sunshine, the father is a motivational speaker and says anyone can be a winner if you try hard enough. However he fail over and over again and live in the illusion that he can be a winner by giving motivational speech and if you stick by his own standards, he is a looser.
    However, Little Miss Sunshine isn’t just about destroying the American dream. Indeed, it is the idea of freedom and forgetting about the society’s pressures and do what you want. Little Miss Sunshine is telling us that no matter how much time and effort you put into something it still might not work out, so just live your life.

  6. I had to find an artwork which is supporting a view of the American Dream. Therefore, I tried to remember some movies that I saw, and I couldn’t choose one from among the three movies that I will present you. Anyway I think that, it is better because it shows three different aspect of the American Dream.

    First of all, the American Dream tells us if you work hard you can live an ideal lifestyle. What Little Miss Sunshine is saying about the American Dream is that it’s just wishful thinking; even if you do everything right you can still fail. The father in the movie, Richard Hoover, is a motivational speaker trying to get his 9 step plan published. He says there are 2 kinds of people in the world, winners and losers, the losers which are the worst people to his mind. He keep failing during the movie, and finally, the American Dream is going away from his first definition. Little Miss Sunshine is telling us that no matter how much time and effort you put into something it still might not work out, so just live your life.
    Here’s the first film’s poster that pretty well shows the absurd side of this excellent movie :

    Secondly, Pleasantville is set in a simple place where everyone and everything is perfect. Everyone is happy, smiles, and laughs, as well as has a great family and a great job. Their lives are perfect and shows out what the American Dream really is. David is zapped with his twin sister Jennifer into the black-and-white TV-show, and they are more and more disturbing the peaceful life of the city where books have no words, the high school basketball team always wins, and nobody ever questions why things are always so perfect. All the repressed desires of life in Pleasantville begin to immerge. Some of the people become « colored », while many still remain « black-and-white ». The American Dream based on Pleasantville is not simply the original stereotype, it’s also based on what people themselves want.
    Look at this shot from the movie, you’ll better understand the atmosphere :

    Thirdly, and finally, The Pursuit of Happyness tells the true story of Christopher Gardner -played by Will Smith-, a man who invests heavily in an expensive medical device that doesn’t offer a great benefit over its cheaper competitors. His life is a downward spiral : his wife leaves, he loses his house and he is forced to live on the street with his son. This movie shows the fragile aspect of the American Dream : it shows that even when it seems like you’re living the American Dream, it can all fall away due to a twist of fate. Actually, in the movie, Gardner finds a new job and takes his life back into his hand, he finally succeeds against the odds.
    Here’s the poster :

    To put it in a nutshell, these three movies show three different views of the American Dream, and it well discloses the complexity and the ambiguousness of this notion.

  7. Hello, I choose this picture. It is a transitory artwork.
    This artist (Chad Wright) made a series of home using sand, to portray suburban homes. Indeed, having a home in the surbubs with a white Pickett fence is one of the symbol of American Dream.
    Furthermore, the homes are in sand to simbolyse the fact that the American Dream decreases. The waves were actually washing away the houses.
    I choose this artwork because it is exactly how I see the American Dream today, as a European person ; living in the surbub doesn’t attract me. However, I still have an interest in the United States, but only as a tourist. I dream of visiting New York with its skyline, Central Park, The Statue of Liberty, the Golden Gate of San Fransisco and so many things in this country.

  8. Hey everyone !

    I would like to talk to you about the « fat batman » which was in Ms Penelon’s PowerPoint. You may find it on the last page of it.

    In my opinion Batman represents the American dream because his parents made fortune with Wayne Enterprises before their death. Therefore, they let to their son an empire. Bruce is wealthy, he lives in a manor and his health is very good. He trained a lot to get his perfect shape which allowed him to defend his city at night. He live a life of freedom and happiness thanks to what his parents and himself achieved.

    But now he looks like Mr. Average, slumped in his sofa, watching TV and eating an ice cream. He lost his perfect shape but kept his batman suit to think that he still able to defend his city from criminals. But he can’t. He lost everything that was making him the Batman at night. He is now only able to use his money.

    It represents the decadence of the American Dream. Indeed the USA shine through their universities and researches centers. It’s their facade which make who they are. Thanks to this facade people still believe in the American Dream but it has changed with time. Now it’s much more difficult to have a process like the Waynes.

  9. Hi everyone, my first passion is sport and I wanted to find a link between sport and the American Dream. Then, I found an example that could illustrated this link : the American Football (NFL). More precisely, one football player called Mike Webster.

    First, the idea of social mobility was one of the most important American values, and belief in its veracity played some role in encouraging millions of immigrants to come to the United States. Moreover, Americans generally have believed that sports constituted one of the most democratic indigenous institutions since participants were supposedly recruited solely on the basis of their talent and skill. A youth from any social background could theoretically become a professional athlete, given sufficient ability and perseverance, and thereby rise above his father. Several people want to become a professional athlete, it’s a dream.

    Now, talk about Mike Webster and the NFL. The American Football is the most popular sport in the US. The story of Mike can represent the American dream, he was son of farmer and his family was not rich. He became professional football player in 1974, and he knew success very quickly, and suicided himself in 2002. His life can showing the American Dream that people dream to success in US, they try everything but sooner or later they will have to look at reality in the face and nothing is easy.

  10. During the last English lesson, Mrs Penelon asked us to recap our presentation about the American Dream. So, with Alison, we chose to speak about the musical West Side Story that illustrate well the different aspects of this topic.
    First, we summarized quickly the script of this film. The story resembles Romeo and Juliet: it takes place in New York, more precisely in West Side, and protagonists can be reduced to two gangs. On one side, the Sharks – Portoricans recently arrived in New York – and on the other side, the Jets – third-generation Irish, Italians or Poles immigrants. Action is focused on the love between the previous Jets’ leader, Tony, and the Shark’s leader’s sister, Maria.
    In this movie, Bernstein (the composer and writer) raises the issue of the American Dream, and of the migrants’ situation in the United States at the end of the 20’s. Indeed, he denounces materialism, consumerism, and the ability of the big firms which manipulate the society through advertising and press.
    A mind opposition is often notable, for instance between the Portorican girls, who defend the American Dream, while speaking about « Cadillacs », « skyscrapers », luxury and riches, and who describe the abhorrence of Porto Rico, and the Sharks men, who criticize Americans, their welcome, and the deplorable conditions of living (they have to live in slums).
    Alison and Pauline

    here is a poster of this movie (although there is one in our classroom) :

  11. Hello,
    I took this picture:

    First, in this picture, you can see an American homeless sleeping on a bench covered with an American flag blanket. On his left, there is a trolley with all his belongings in.
    To me, the blanket symbolizes the government help for Americans or even immigrants. And it’s not much they could do more!

    Moreover, this picture shows a side of America that not many people see. For foreigners, America can be defined by the American dream. « Everything is beautiful, okay it can be hard but you must give your maximum! »
    And this picture is totally the opposite.
    We can see how life is harsh for some of them. And the inequalities between « rich » and « poor » people.
    Here this man is not leaving the American Dream at all, it’s more like the American nightmare.

    This picture is part of my vision, some may achieve the Amercican Dream and have success and it’s very good for them.
    But others are not leaving it at all. And maybe they lost everything because of the American dream. Their house, work… And have to leave in the streets.
    The American dream is not only the beautiful side.

  12. Hi everybody, I have worked on the statue of liberty. Built by Bartholdi, a french artist, as a gift to the USA in 1886, she was the symbol of freedom during the golden age of immigration to America. Lady Liberty lighted their way with its torch and was as bright as gold in his new copper dress. About 8000 to 10000 people entered the USA by Ellis Island daily and began their american dream. But today this symbol have faded to green and no more migrant came to the island but about 20000 tourists. That doesn’t mean that the american dream have disappeared but that it has changed.

  13. I choose this poster from the website because it represents my point of view of the American Dream. The headline: “The American Dream Isn’t Dead, It’s Just Different Now” says it all.

    The poster was posted in 2017 but the drawing seems to be quite old. It probably because that the American Dream has changed since a long time ago and not recently. This change is due to 2 mains influences; the first one is the globalization.
    The globalization results in a change in American economics. The ability to buy and sell anything, anywhere in the world. Thanks to transnational firms such as Wal-Mart and Apple, people can open shops and then sold what they have created also, the dollar can be used in many countries. Moreover, the US is the greatest world power and allows it to have an impact in the economy in general.
    The second influence is the advertisement. Advertising are everywhere, in the form of poster or video and are shared on TV or radio. There are many anywhere and anytime that why, when we watch or see them, we believe that we need more and more stuffs. That’s what we can see on the drawing, a family is cooking in a luxurious kitchen with many and new household products such as oven and cooker. Our eyes convincing and fools us.

    To conclude, to me, the American Dream still exists but it becomes more and more materialistic and consumeristic. The meaning of American Dream is to own things, buy and have a family. We can see on the poster, a happy family, who are cooking together in a big kitchen so a big house. The American Dream is the desire of owning thing, the purchasing power and to have a better, richer and fuller life.

  14. I found a very interesting artwork that is really interesting about the American Dream.
    It is called Master Plan made by Chad Wright in 2011.

    He built several small sand houses side by side on the beach in California intended to represent a post-war suburbia. He made this houses with plastic moulds lifted off to reveal the L-shaped bungalow forms with little chimneys that are which are typical in America.
    The sand houses seems to represent the childhood because everyone has already made a sand castle when we were kids.
    The fact that the houses are aligned remind us the street grids in the USA.
    Furthermore, these are side by side which is connected to the mass-produced tract house at that time.
    Besides, make it on the beach is really ingenious because the waves erode the houses leaving them cracked and crumbling. Hence the link with the post-war period.

    If you want more informations about Wright’s work, check that :

  15. Hello everyone,
    I worked with Terence on the artwork named Master Plan made by Chad Wright and I will complete what he said.
    These houses oppose the playfull childhood experience building sand castles on the beach and the grim, modern-day reality of our current real estate collapse. In fact this suburbia represents the American Dream with the typical cliche of a perfect family in the suburbia, living in a house, wealthy,etc. But this Dream is destructed by the ocean, which represents the history of the USA since the end of the Second World War, and the differents waves wich can be associate to the different economic crisis.
    Moreover, Chad Wright created another artwork named Master Plan, Phase Two: Cradle Avenue. It represents the Main street there is in all american cities. But the artist transformed this street, first he put no trees, then he placed only drive-in on both side of the street and finally, at the end of the street, we can see an obese obelisk facade which figures the obesity issue in the USA. The fact that this sand construction is in the Death valley can symbolize the end of the American Dream too.
    These two art pieces are quite funny because when we think about the American Dream, the first things that came to our mind are not obesity or estate collapse.
    here is the link to the second sand construction :

  16. Here is a link to the picture Rémy and I chose to represent our vision of the American Dream :

    On this picture, we can see two children in the desert in front of a wall on which it is written « Tambien de este lado hay sueños » which means « On this side too there are dreams ». It is signed « Acción Poética ».

    Acción Poética is a literary and artistic movement which started in Mexico in 1996. It was founded by the mexican poet Armando Alanis Pulido, and consists in painting fragments of poetry especially on the walls of cities. In the present case, the wall on which it is written is the one separating the two sides of the border between Mexico and the US. It is written is spanish, so we can assume it is the Mexican side.

    This picture represents our vision of the American Dream, because we think there are not dreams only in America. Indeed, even if a lot of people imagine having a better life in the US, we think there are also people who don’t care about all you can have in America, and would prefer to live in another country. People keep talking about the American Dream as if it was the one and only dream you can have, as if everyone had the same dream.

    The reasons we chose this picture is because it shows very well that the US is not the center of the world. First, the sentence is written in spanish, not english. Moreover, its meaning is exactly what we think : everyone has a different vision of the perfect life. For some people, there is no need to go to the US to be happy, they dream of a simple life in their own country.

  17. The artwork I chose to define my view of the american dream, represent a man, probably a businessman, curled up and lying on the statue of liberty, which has her hand affectionately put on his shoulder as if she tried to comfort him. The man is sleeping, and given his smile and his peaceful face, we can even think that he is dreaming about something pleasant, as the american dream for instance, because the man dreaming near the allegory of the american dream, we can suppose a literal representation of the american dream. However, even literally, a dream is not concrete, the american dream is thus something elusive that we cannot realize otherwise than in imagination.
    Furthermore, the statue of liberty seems exhausted with a face ravaged by rings and tiredness, or maybe even old age. The american dream has already existed, but this golden age is over, now she can’t promise anymore the life full of opportunities and happiness of yesteryear. Besides, we can see that she is came down from her base and that her torch, light of the hope and the freedom, strong supporter of the democracy, lets die the last clouds of smoke, vestiges of the symbolic flames, and with them, everything they represented, up to the american dream.
    All of that is paradoxical and ironic with the placard where it’s still written : ‘The great american dream », while, actually, it only remains a dilapidatedstatue, eaten away by time, which is only able to cradle a man with the promise of a dream which will never come true, to the detriment of the rest of the world (represented by the crowd behind the base), who wonders where is the one who watch over the land of the miracles.
    Thus, I chose this drawing because, to me, the american dream truly existed, but stopped existing when the United States began to amass more benefits on people came to settle down over there, than those that hope to earn those same people by going over there.

  18. traditionnal image of the American family. In fact, it actually describes the inner truth about what are American families. The father faces despair in his professional life and begins to act in an incredibly weird way with his sister’s friend. The mother is a psycho, who freaks out whenever she’s upset. And the daughter completely rejects her parents, by dressing as a gothic and lashing out at them. The situation only worsen, as the family collapses and falls apart. To me, this movie succeeds to explore the reality behind the common image of happiness promoted by the American Dream and the ideas it conveys, such as what Tolstoï said in Anna Karenina : « Happy families look similar. Each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. »

  19. Good afternoon,
    The workart I chose is a film by Sam Mendes, « American Beauty », featuring Kevin Spacey and Annette Benning. At first, you could think that the family portrayed in the movie matches the

    1. Good afternoon,

      For my part, I chose this picture which reminds me the American dream, the dream of poor populations who expect for something of the USA, some help to go from rags to riches.

      To begin with, I think that the American dream is not like in the 80’s or the 90’s, symbol of freedom and success. It has deeply changed. Nowadays, it is only a hope that a dream is possible to realize. The chance to manage to reach your goal is so tiny that instead of encouraging yourself, and giving you the means to manage what you want to accomplish, the USA discourage yourself and reduce your dream.
      Indeed, on the document we can see a couple, with the man who scales his American dream down to a furnished studio within 5 miles of water. Moreover, he says it with a starry sky, which represents success, in front of him. Her wife is shocked because she was expected for something better, given the idea she had of the American dream. The artist, Stahler, wants to denounce the fact that the American dream makes believe that everything is possible for them while nothing is done to integrate them into the society.

      The American dream is finally only an image without reality behind it. It becomes almost impossible for poor people to get rich and climb the social ladder, so they reduce the “level” of their dream and it becomes ridiculous.

  20. I found a very interesting artwork that is really interesting about the American Dream.
    It is called Master Plan made by Chad Wright in 2011.

    He built several small sand houses side by side on the beach in California intended to represent a post-war suburbia. He made this houses with plastic moulds lifted off to reveal the L-shaped bungalow forms with little chimneys that are which are typical in America.
    The sand houses seems to represent the childhood because everyone has already made a sand castle when we were kids.
    The fact that the houses are aligned remind us the street grids in the USA.
    Furthermore, these are side by side which is connected to the mass-produced tract houses at that time after the war.
    Besides, make it on the beach is really ingenious because the waves erode the houses leaving them cracked and crumbling. Hence the link with the post-war period.

    If you want more informations about Wright’s work, check that :

  21. Here is the link to see the work of art that I chose:\u003d1502902383
    To express my vision of the American Dream I chose a graffiti realised by Banksy in May 2010, in a low-income area of Chinatown in Boston, Massachusetts.
    I think, this mural is a really good representation of the American Dream because it represents a worker from the depression era who posted the “cancel” sign over the sentence “Follow your dream”. It is very symbolic, because in the past, they were a lot of opportunities, if we worked hard we could become whatever we wanted. But we can’t fulfil our dream only by working hard anymore, nowadays the American Dream, is faith and fortitude.
    The tired-looking man with his shoulders hunched down and a long face support this idea of the end of this American Dream. Because he has been working long hours maybe trying to support a family, fulfil his dream, but he didn’t achieve so he gave up.
    Moreover the placement of this work of art on Essex Street, in the low-income district of Boston, gives the piece a deeper meaning. Indeed, this place became an immigrant haven where they can pursue the American Dream. If immigrant came here it was to achieve their dreams by working hard. But now, they can’t do that anymore.

  22. The illustration I have chosen to represent the American Dream was drawn by Wesley Bedrosian, an American illustrator and graphic designer for an article in “The Boston Globe”, a newspaper :

    We can see a couple walking with difficulty because of the strong wind going against them. The wind is representing all the obstacles they have to go through to achieve their American dream such as jobs, money, studies, sexism for the woman for example. However, one of the obstacle which is highlighted is racism because they are black people. Therefore, it means the American dream is harder to achieve for some people and that it is not equal.
    As for the American dream, it is represented firstly by the colors: red, blue and white, as the American flag. Then, there are the buildings, cars and statues of liberty which are on the blanket the woman is holding. Thus, we have the idea the American dream is something big, with big city and lively. However, because of the wind, the woman has to hold the blanket to not let it go. She is still aiming for her American Dream and she has still hope. But, as the couple is walking, parts of the “American dream” are flying away because of the wind, so the obstacles. Moreover, the more the couple is moving forward, the stronger the wind seems so and the harder it is to keep the blanket. The American dream seems very hard to obtain and keeping hope seems hard too.

    In conclusion, the American dream, here, is considered as something harder to achieve for some people but also difficult to achieve because obstacles are standing between you and your dream and can make you lose hope.

  23. The project I wanted to present is part of the melted away creations. Those are temporary monuments. This one is made of ice and it represents the words “American Dream”.
    It was realized in two different places: in Cleveland and in Philadelphia.

    Why this project?

    First of all, I have to say that I am really fond of the idea of such structures. In my opinion it really shows how ephemeral the American Dream can be. Indeed, such as the sculpture, when we see it at the beginning, it looks beautiful, catchy but with the time, this immaculate idea starts to melt and gradually, it disappears until this moment when everything as disappeared and that they still only a vague memory of it. We can see it easily on the following pictures:

    The first one was shot in Cleveland: we can see the structure almost unaffected

    Then, the photographer as made a zoom, probably a few minutes or hours later : we can see the ice starting to melt

    And finally, this time in Philadelphia, we can see the few pieces remaining of this American Dream and we can also notice some people, sharing a part of ice from the structure. This represents, at least I think so, how people are sharing the leftovers of the old American Dream as relics, allowing them to think of the old times when it still had a strong meaning.

  24. Hello everyone,
    I will present you a psychedelic-pop painting by Steven Harrigton. Firtstly, Steven Harrigton is an artist and designer, one of the leaders of comtemporary californian psychedelic-pop artists. his paintings are inspired by California’s landscapes and melting-pots.
    This painting is untiltled, it is a part of « wavy day », an exclusive exhibition which was held in Colette, Paris in 2015. Originally the painting was created for the 53rd grammy awards, it was a colaboration with Target. It represents Los Angeles in all aspects.
    To me the American dream refers to the delusions of grandeur with big cities, sky-crapers, as well as for sucess story, wealth and celebrity.
    In the background, a lot of sky-crapers are painted, yellow represents lights on. he wanted to show the energy of los angeles, the city never sleeps. Tourism is also represented by women who is taking a picture. Moreover a lot of items refer to song as a vinyl, a guitar, a drum and piano tiles.
    Celebrity takes a huge part on this painting, it is represented by the red carpet and all people who are around. We can see two or three people who are acclaimed. we can imagined a joyful and exited life in Los Angeles with all these colors. champaign bottle refers to parties. Finally diamonds show wealth.
    To me the most important is these targets, it is the logo of Target. Furthermore, they are symbols of determination and perseverance: to have a great life, we must have ambitious objectives.
    (It is the third)

  25. If I had to choose a work of art representing the American Dream, it would surely be the painting « Nighthawks » by Edward Hopper. (
    Hopper’s painting is a vibrant testimony of the « american way of life » during the first half of the 20th century. His paintings indeed depicts everyday life events, like a card game in a bar, dressing in the morning, staring at a window… But his style also adds a metaphysical sense to these actions, his characters are often lonely and nostalgic.

    This style is perfectly represented in the famous painting « Nighthawks ». We can see a group of 4 people, including one couple and one waiter, standing in a bar on Greenwich Avenue in New York. The composition is graduated, all characters are well spaced apart from each other, only the two from the couple look to have a subtle contact with their hands. They also seem to be isolated from the exterior by the huge glass in front of the coffee. In this way, this place is like a place of rest and serenity, where time seems to have stopped, before going back to a more agitated life.

    And that is precisely what is The American Dream throught art in my opinion. It’s not those mind blowing instants of bravour or glory. To me, it’s all those pending moments of subtelty, were reality shapes itself into a unique instant that is already legendary.
    We can see those moments in a lot of american films or in other media like music and most importantly painting.

    I can think to several other painters or paintings of this type, like « The Singing Butler »made by Jack Vettriano (

  26. Hello everyone,

    As I am very interested in architecture and I wish to join a National School of Architecture next year, I choose to present a building.
    To me, the main architectural symbol representing the American dream is the Chrysler Building in New York City.
    Firstly Chrysler is a luxury car brand known worldwide. The brand is a symbol of an American success story.
    In addition, the Chrysler Building was the highest in the world when it was erected. It was 320m tall.
    The Chrysler Building is still elected the most beautiful skyscraper in the world by leading architects. It is one of New York’s skyline major landmarks with the Empire State Building it has appeared in many movies.
    The building, built in an Art Deco style, features many sculptures such as 8 steel eagles and wings representing parts of the Chrysler cars.
    Some parts of it represent mechanical parts such as radiators, designed by American engineers and are thus highlighted.
    To conclude, the Chrysler Building represents the power and the prosperity of the American manufacturing, that’s why I think it represents the American dream.

    Here are some pictures:

  27. I didn’t choose a painting or a photo but rather a series : ‘the Simpsons’.
    In my opinion the main elements related to the American dream are the property and the bootstrap mentality. The bootstrap mentality is the notion that an individual can start from scratch and make his way up and reach the top by working hard. Here, the family doesn’t really start from scratch but they take the opportunities given and they often launch start-ups. Also, it’s often said by the characters that Lisa’s promised to a great future if she keeps working hard, and that she’s gonna end up president. But actually, here, the bootstrap mentality aspect of the American dream is rather mocked. Indeed, we can take the example of Homer, who doesn’t really work hard (he’s always eating donuts and sleeping during his job hours, causing the nuclear plant to collapse 10 times a season). Besides, none of the start-ups he launches lasted more than one episode, and they usually end in tragic circumstances. About the property, they own a typical American middle-class house with front and back yard, and all the neighborhood is composed of the same type of houses. The Simpsons family, it’s also a married couple, with 3 children, a dog and a cat, who owns two cars, a typical American middle-class family.

    Here is just the series’ poster :,0,182,268_AL_.jpg

  28. Hello everyone
    I’m going to present you the work of art I chose to illustrate the American dream.

    In common opinion, the US is an « idyllic » place where everything is possible, where you can achieve all your dreams. It’s also synonymous with opportunities, liberty, equality, wealth… That’s why a lot of immigrants decide to go there but what do they find by arriving in ? Not to which they expected… Today things have changed, the world knows a new turning point. There are no more « idyllic » places. In the past, the American dream was not only a myth but today it’s different.

    The Italian illustrator, Sara Gironi, is an involved artist who chose to raise the issues of inequalities, society’s inconsistencies, injustices and who fights for human rights. For these reasons, she has chosen to express herself about the myth of the American dream by way of an illustration. The title of her work of art is « Is the American dream over ? ». Thanks to this title, we already understand her position about this question. Indeed, it can mean that she no longer believes in it. In the foreground, the Statue of Liberty is represented from behind, bowed over the deck. By way of her posture, she seems to be sad, desesperated. So she is on a boat with her suitcase near her : she is living her country, she goes into exile. Indeed, in front of her, in the background, we can see New-York city and the Statue of Liberty piedestal, empty : she got off of it. This means that the American dream is no longer relevant. There is no more hope for the immigrants who come there. Besides, the US flag pokes out of her suitcase and her torch, broken and put out, is on it : there is no light for the new generation of immigrants, no guide. In the background, we also see a sunset : it’s the end of the day, the end of a myth.

    In conclusion, Sara Gironi has a negative vision of the American dream. To her it’s over, outmoded. It’s just a belief. In a way I agree with her because today things have changed. Go to the US in the hope of having a better and comfortable life is what motives people to do that but once there do they find a job well-paid ? Do they have a « beautiful » life ? Do they go from rags to riches ? Yes they can do it but at what cost ? And sometimes they can’t afford this type of life, never. That’s why I think that the American dream, this one of the twentieth century , exists no more but we can define a new version of it, less idyllic…

    Here is the link of the illustration :

  29. Hey everyone ! Enjoying your holidays so far ?
    Great. Now I wanted to talk about a picture that reminds me of the American Dream to me. Even though I’ll share a single picture, the real idea is from the place that has been photographed, so you can look for any other pictures of that place and it’ll still be the same message.
    I don’t really know how much words or lines we need to write so I’ll just go with the feeling and tell everything I need to say about this, no matter the number.

    First of all, here’s the link to the picture :

    As you can see, I’ve chosen to talk about Time Square, a well known place in Manhattan, in New York. It’s a really huge crowded place that welcome around 365 000 people per day.
    Why did I choose this place to talk about the American Dream ? Well, to me, this is the perfect representation of the dream, in many aspects.
    Often called “Crossroads of the worlds”, this place is consistently crowded with people. Mostly tourists. As they are tourists, you can find a lot of culture by crossing those roads. It’s like a place of multiculturalism, where a lot of people from everywhere comes together to visit New York. Also, it’s not just about just crossing the road, because you can surely find a lot of street artists there : dancers, musicians, paintings,.. A lot of people come here to show the power of their culture !
    Next, you can look at the middle of the picture. As you can see : lots of ads, light signs filled with advertisements. It can be associated with the pursuit of happiness, even if this seems to be a short one, and mostly for tourism. Those signs illuminate the place, but you need to know that the structure in the middle (the big building with many logos), is actually empty inside. We could then mix this information with the idea of fake American dream, where a lot of signs illuminate, but shows nothing behind them…
    Finally, we have the upper part of the picture, where the skyscrapers could represent how big and tall the American dream is. America is a big, tall and expanding city, just like New York.

    As you see, I really focused on the “tourist” side of the American dream, but it’s actually what I think of it… To me, the American dream is just a bait for tourism, that you can believe until you live in the USA. This place is the perfect representation of the dream : Wealth, Multiculturalism and think big.
    Thank you for reading this and have a nice weekend !

  30. Hi everyone,
    This is the artwork I found: a graffiti that you can find here: (just after the middle of the website). It is named American dream & Indian nightmare.
    This graffiti shows a young black boy on Governors Island at New York. He is looking at the background: Financial District in Manhattan and its high skyscrapers. Between the boy and the city, there is a boat yellow with black and white squared, like the famous New York taxis.
    The boy put his head on his arm, and look dreaming of what he sees. The main thing that strike when you look this artwork is the colors used. The scene takes place during the sunset, so the sky is purple and orange. The water is made of every color possible and looks strange and beautiful. The light comes from the sky and gives an unreal aspect to the scene. The skyscrapers are also colored even if it was a dream.
    And then we can ask: are we in the boy’s head? Maybe the graffiti represents what the boy is dreaming. His vision of the American dream. I think that the graffiti doesn’t represent the real Manhattan, gray and dirty, but an idealistic vision of what it could be, colorful and attractive.
    We can notice that this facility is symbolic: if you follow the light, the direction of the boat, the main lines, you will go to the West. And at the west of the Governors Island, there is two things: the Ellis Island, symbol of new hope, welcome; and the Liberty Island, symbol of America and Liberty of course.
    All these elements made that I loved this graffiti because it is gorgeous and full of significations about what can be a conception of the American dream.

    Hope you will have good end of vacations.

  31. Hi everyone ! I hope you’re having nice holidays.

    Before the mock exam, we presented to each other some works of art about the American Dream in class, and Ms Penelon ( @admin ) asked us to post those presentations.

    So I’m going to present Duane Hanson’s sculpture named « Tourists II ».
    You can find it on the 10th page (first of the two artworks on this page) of the PowerPoint presentation called « American-Dream-artwork-examples.pptx » which is near the top of this page of englishlamartin.
    Otherwise here’s a link :
    However because it’s a sculpture you can find some different photographs taken from different angles and in different places.

    Duane Hanson was born in 1925 and died in 1996, both in the US.

    Whereas at the time (that’s to say in the 60s) the dominant trend was abstract expressionism, he decided to go against the mainstream and to represent reality (people actually) at living scale, and with so much details that one could believe these are real people. He has become the leader of the hyperrealist American trend.

    His artworks are provoking ones. They scandalize people so that they remember them, more than they remember their creator.

    Indeed, he portrays people representing categories of the American population, with characteristic features that he denounces. These can be, most of the time, people from the middle class.

    The technic he uses is molding, with glass fiber and resins. It allows him to put some impressive details such as skin texture.

    That’s why he can represent characters that look living and deliver his message.
    Globally, Duane Hanson shows illusions about the American Dream in the 70s.

    Let’s concentrate on this particular artwork. It’s entitled “Tourists II”.

    There are 2 characters, a man and a woman; let’s suppose they are travelling together.

    They are both tanned, which might be linked with tourism, otherwise they might live in the South of the US.

    The man has got a small… should I call it a bag or a case? Well, that’s ok. Then, what about the woman? She carries two bigger bags, one on the shoulder, and she holds the second one with her other hand. It may represent American consumerism, often denounced by Hanson. Obesity of the woman (furthermore the man is not that thin either) may represent and accuse American consumerism too.

    Then, they both have a camera, ready to take photograph of anything at any time. It seems that they intend to discover; that looks like adventure, like the American Dream. But behind their camera, will they really see and discover landscapes and culture? No, they won’t, because this is commercial tourism, alienating and rationalized tourism. They take photos in order to “keep memories” and then show it in order to seem rich, travelling a lot. Thus, Duane Hanson might denounce how people care about appearances and social decorum.

    I also see some kind of “social superiority” in these characters in the way they watch around them, the head high, the face inexpressive and contemptuous, and the sunglasses of the woman. Anyway, concerning the sunglasses, let’s say she’s got weak eyes and there is much light. And they might be kind of lost in that unknown place.

    Meanwhile, in the way they are dressed, it seems that they aren’t that wealthy, wearing so colourful and relaxed clothes. It could be a form of provocation towards inhabitants, being like “We’re Americans, we’re richer than you and relaxed because we’ve got our place in the world”. Otherwise the artist may want to show a paradox.

    As a conclusion, this work of art shows American people as contemptuous, and at the same time imprisoned by their consumeristic and alienating society. Thus that vision of America isn’t idealistic. The American Dream gets decreased. Without any frame, spectators can better notice details and watch those characters, so that art reveals elements of the world we wouldn’t notice otherwise.

    PS : Sorry concerning the photograph I don’t know how to display it in my comment (I tried to paste it but it doesn’t work) that’s why I put a link and indicated one could find this artwork in Ms Penelon’s slideshow « American-Dream-artwork-examples.pptx »

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