United States of America is a country which had to confront a lot of difficulties before it became individuals’ American Dream. Even though it has a close and short history, it includes lots of administrative changes, several revolutions, and several streams in different branches. There is no doubt that the most important historical figures are called the founding fathers of the USA. They had to face many injustices and truculences before they succeeded to establish a democratic country for their people, and the following presidents successfully attempted to pursue the same path throughout their careers.
After the establishment of the USA, some issues about the origins of immigrants came up. The United States of America is a mixed country in terms of races and ethnic minorities, and it became more and more wealthy in terms of cultural differences, different traditions, different beliefs, different life styles. Consequently, there were times where difficult situations about minorities got out of hand. Many races and many immigrants were exposed to be humiliated, sometimes seen as inferiors by the majority, therefore they had to struggle to live an equal life.These times are not very far from the present; but in the end, the United States of America succeeded to have a real “American Dream” for everyone.
Nowadays, the country has many acts to protect the minorities rights as it should have been at the beginning. There can not only be one race, one skin color and one dominant ethnic group in America; it is an immigrant country which takes its power from loyal citizens from different origins and their purifying themselves from prejudice and passing their unity to the next generations and to the future.
- There is no doubt that America’s short but active history was reflected on the arts by artists with disparate creativeness and various methods. In my project; I am going to mention about three arts that I choose for connecting them with the key concepts of American Civilization:
1.0. Andy Warhol’s “Gold Marilyn Monroe” painting which is a photograph reproduced with pop-art and its relation with “American Dream” philosophy. Key Concept; American Dream.
2.0. “Rosie the Riveter” graphic/poster which is produced by J. Howard Miller. Key Concepts; Freedom & Democracy for American Everyman and Every woman, American Dream
3.0. “Mount Rushmore” which is produced by the famous sculptor John Gutzon Borglum and his son. Key concepts; Space/Nature and Freedom & Democracy.
In addition, I am going to discuss about the history of these arts, the streams that their artists inspired, the effects of the period when these arts were created, I am going to support these topics with some visuals and videos and I will end my project with my conclusion.
1.0. GOLD MARILYN MONROE
1.1.Who is Andy Warhol?
Andy Warhol, with his original name Andrew Warhola, is mostly known for his movies and paintings. He is an American artist of Russian origin who is one of the most important starters of pop-art. After sixties there were huge social and political changes in America which brought a different stream called “American popular culture.” He became an icon of that stream with his extraordinary art. Essentially, it was quite difficult to call it extraordinary, but really was extraordinary because he was doing something nobody had called “art” before. He was copying some pictures, sometimes playing with their colors, sometimes even copying the same image over and over. What he did initiated huge discussions whether if it was a real art or not due to the fact that Warhol’s art was based on the thought of mass production products being used frequently and this inclined him to multiply his pictures with the flyer technique. This was very unusual in the art world of 60′s.
Campbell’s soup cans, one of the most known art of Warhol, is still presenting in Museum of Modern Art in the USA.
Andy Warhol worked really hard throughout his life with his belief of American Dream – he believed that prosperity, happiness and reputation were only available for those who worked hard. He is also of Slavic origin and this proves that he and his family sought welfare in other places than their hometown. He was born in a slum, but he died in a townhouse in Upper East Side. We can clearly see that he always criticized the post-war consumption frenzy in his art. To be used most consumed products such as Campbell’s soup and Coca-Cola on most of his works prove my statement. He accepted “work hard, deserve welfare” ideology, but the growth of consumer capitalism started to wipe it out and disrupt the equal balance, according to him. He was opposed to the idea of buying new things due to the fact that it was an endless desire of the people in the new world. To emphasize that, he used “collage” in most of his paintings. He tried to prove that people do not need addiction to produce something new – reproducing, recreating can be more and more attractive and interesting and he succeeded. To sum up, he ridiculed the consumption frenzy with pop art which first emerged for advertising products. In other words, he stabbed them with their own swords.
- 1.2.Pop-arted Gold Marilyn Monroe and The American Dream
In fact, pop-art started to be used on ads, posters, magazines to increase consumption. After World War II, it became an art rather than a branch of advertisement.
Firstly in 1960; minimalism was the main and popular movement in America, but it could not stand against that vibrant and colorful stream called pop-art no more. New York became the capital of that art. Moreover, pop-art has been a symbol for American popular culture since 20th century until present.
- American Dream:
One of his most known piece is called “Gold Marilyn Monroe” and it is the most effective work in terms of slyly conveying a message. It featured his rebellion against the consumption frenzy under the disguise of Marilyn Monroe; who is the first remembered icon all around the world especially if the topic is the American Dream. Thanks to not only her beauty and her reputation, but also her past which is also an unforgettable story about the American dream. He copied her images, colored it differently and created one of the most known worldwide painting in 1962.
He finished that work just a few weeks after her death. Therefore, it might be representing how American dream ideology was dying because of the consumer capitalism. This might have been the reason behind his choosing to reproduce Marilyn Monroe’s photograph especially.
The original photograph of Golden Marilyn Monroe work, 1953.
2.0. ROSIE THE RIVETER
The illustration which was created by J. Howard Miller in 1943, is still presenting in National Museum Of American History in Washington.
- 2.1. Why was this illustration created?
Rosie The Riveter poster is created in World War II period, by J. Howard Miller. The poster is mostly known as “We can do it!” which is the written slogan on it. The name of the woman on that poster is Geraldine Doyle, the original picture of it was taken in Michigan while she was working in the factory when she was 17. She did not even know her picture would be used on a poster which would invite women to produce and support the country during World War II.
During the 40s, women did not have a right to work and have economic freedom without the permission of a spouse. When the World War II broke out, male citizens, several of whom were factory workers, had to go overseas. The government needed working women to keep the economy stimulating, so they let housewives work in factories and this is how women started to support their country instead of their men. Miller used Geraldine Doyle’s photo to create an illustration to call women to join their cause, but he did not know the poster was going to be the symbol of women’s rights not only in America but also all around the world; neither did Geraldine. The first time she realized she had become the symbol of feminism was in 1982, around 40 years later. She died in 2010.
- 2.2. Rosie The Riveter and Feminism
After the war was ended, men returned to their country only to face the truth that women had taken control of the economy proving they were able to work just as effectively as men, consequently earning their independence and rights. That way, the stereotypical thought that women had to be home looking after children started to fade away slowly. Women can be seen as a historical minority in American culture. They faced injustice in the patriarchal system. Their duties were given to them by their fathers or brothers, then by their husbands after they were married. World War II was a keystone in the history of feminist movement because aside from the destruction, it demonstrated to people that just because men are generally physically stronger than women does not mean they are inferior and they cannot be abused for it. Additionally, “feminism” was not emerged to claim the “inferiority” of women gender, they were just looking for equality.
2.3. Rosie The Riveter and The Selected Key Concepts
- Freedom and Democracy for American Everyman and Every woman:
The time that poster has been created was the time when is proved equality between humans over “gender”. Women are considered as minority like immigrant minorities which are exposed to be humiliated by inferior races during immigration and post-immigration. Afterwards, women proved their power by working instead of men, it was a milestone about to be started the minority and majority equality all around the country. On the other hand they proved that the government needs its minorities sometimes, to overcome difficulties together, and only if unifying as a different groups regardless the individuals’ identities, the country can become more and more strong. Both things demonstrate that America was getting better to get freedom and democracy for everyone regardless of gender, ethnic group, minority etc.
- American Dream:
Women proved that a woman’s hard-working for their country brought welfare, not only to the country but also to the movement equality of the genders movement.
- 2.4. The Effects on Popular Culture
The poster was not so popular before it was considered as the symbol of powerful women by the society. Following the poster’s success, Geraldine Doyle also became an icon of popular culture as celebrities started using her iconic pose wearing her bandana and her work clothes especially when they wanted to send out a message regarding women’s rights.
Christina Aguilera used it in her video clip named “Candyman” in 2006
Pink played a very masculine character in her music video Raise Your Glass, in 2010.
The last artist is my favorite in terms of music. She is quite popular nowadays not only in the United States but also in the majority of the world. She samples famous iconic figures such as Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and even John F. Kennedy in her songs. In addition, she features the American Dream phenomenon in most of her lyrics. Here, the single cover is inspired by Rosie The Riveter.
3.0. MOUNT RUSHMORE
3.1. Sculpting Process
Mount Rushmore construction, 1939.
It is located in South Dakota, on Black Hills which is very rich in terms of gold and silver mines. It is formed as relief portraits of four American presidents using various explosives, and carved with several vehicles. The portraits of the presidents are (from left to right): George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. The monument was sculptured by famous sculptor Gutzo Borghum and his son between 1936-1942.
The memorial could not be finished because of financial deficiencies.
3.2. Importance of the Memorial
Even though the government thought about adding other portraits of important presidents on the mount such as Ronald Reagan or Barack Obama, they still have not released an official statement regarding the matter.
At first, he had decided only to sculpt George Washington and Abraham Lincoln on the mountain. He added Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt later on while he was still working on the project. There was a reason why he chose to carve the faces of those four presidents on the mountain. President George Washington gained independence from the Great Britain. President Thomas Jefferson wrote most of the Declaration of Independence and became a symbol of liberty around the world with his democratic notion and he purchased Louisiana territory from the French and contributed to the expansion of the borders. President Abraham Lincoln was the person who helped minorities and different groups to union permanently during the Civil War and he was one of the leaders who accomplished to abolish slavery. President Theodore Roosevelt brought economic reforms at the beginning of the 20th century, providing trades to be conducted between east and west with the Panama Canal. In addition, he paid attention to the rights of workers and laborers. These four people had an immensely big effect on the American society. Therefore, their portraits were carved on the Mount Rushmore as an immortal memorial.
3.3. Mount Rushmore and The Selected Key Concepts
“I leave you hoping that the lamp of liberty will burn in your bosoms until there shall no longer be a doubt that all men are created free and equal.”
- Freedom & Democracy:
These faces are the most important representatives of the American civilization. Washington achieved to gain independence for Americans who migrated from Britain. Jefferson can be seen as the father of democracy and a leader of freedom owing to his Declaration of Independence. Lincoln can be considered as the leader of providing equal rights to all races and minorities therefore one of the leaders who brought equal life standards to citizens regardless of their origins and ethnic descents. Roosevelt brought economic welfare to the country and provided high quality life standards for the citizens.
South Dakota, where the sculpture is located, is approximately in the middle of the whole territory of the United States. In my opinion, both the location and the place where these memorable presidents’ portraits were created are meaningful. These presidents expanded their country’s territory throughout their lives and their immortal memorials are located in the middle of their country. Besides, it is also very meaningful to choose the mountain on which the memorial is going to be carved like Black Hills, which is very rich in terms of minerals such as gold and silver. Their portraits were carved on a high mountain – a natural part of the land where the civilization was established. The portraits are 1,745 meters above sea level and it might be representing how they lifted their country to a higher place and their citizens to a life of welfare.
Art raises from where it originates. It always contains properties of the place it was emerged from. American art has inspired many streams and movements throughout the world, but its origin goes back to the roots of the civilization that started it – The United States of America. The works of art I chose are closely connected to the key concepts of the American civilization as Andy Warhol’s Pop Art features the idea of American Dream, the iconic Rosie The Riveter demonstrates the freedom and democracy/equality for American minorities over women, and Mount Rushmore represents the four leaders who dedicated their lives to the cause to give every American their freedom and independence. These arts were exemplified, analyzed and represented with different aspects of the American civilization.