Exhibitons at the British Museum are usually full of stuff. Things made by people long, long ago. Not this one, The American Dream: pop to present is stuffed to the gunnels with prints created in the last six decades in America. Surely we should be in the Tate? Wrong. The national collection of western prints and drawings is held at the British Museum. They know what they are talking about.
Printmaking is not a new medium, think about Dürer’s Rhino, but in 1960’s America the combination of changes in production, marketing and consumption led to a boom. Andy Warhol embraced the medium to reproduce everything from soup cans to movie stars.
Iconic images of flags, cars and comic books are everywhere here. One of the really appealing things about show is the way that windows have been opened up allowing you to glimpse both images you’ve already seen and those that are yet to come.
All the prints are displayed in chronological order. So you get to see Ed Ruscha’s iconic petrol station, like a lesson in perspective drawing, quite early on. Glance to the right through the oblong window to the last room and you can glimpse what looks like a blank white paper, framed accidentally. When you get there, you realise that it’s the same petrol station but devoid of colour; the artists comment on the blandness of modern life.
The morning of the press view was a fine sunny one that called for coffee in light filled location. Museum Street opposite the museum is home to Syrup of Soot that has a bright airy back room in which to appreciate its excellent coffee and cake, for a post about my recent stops for coffee click here.
THE AMERICAN DREAM: POP TO PRESENT
9 March 2017 – 18 June 2017
British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG
Open: Daily 10am – 5.30pm, 8.30pm on Friday
Admission: Adults £16.50, concessions available, members and under 16 free.