The British Museum is hosting a contemporary printmaking exhibition titled “The American Dream: Pop to Present” all summer in London. The show’s title “American Dream” refers to America’s national code, defined in 1931 by freelance author James Truslow Adams as “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer for everyone.” According to the release from the hosting museum, the exhibition explores the creativity flourishing through the turbulent years in American history.

America’s most preserving pictures

Visitors can expect to explore 200 works by 70 artists tracing the past six decades of creative American art: the early 1960s, the rise of minimalism, the 1970s, to the present art practices.

These artists found inspiration from the world around them, including from advertising billboards, the star-studded lifestyle of Hollywood, household objects, which were turned to prints. This type of art was revolutionary in the sense that it allowed for a wider distribution of their works to divers audience. In the 1960s, American young artists developed a passion in printmaking, and this was welcomed by the growing urban middle class.

The 1960s unleashed a range of artist works in response to the great changes happening in America as a society. “Pop to Present” includes Rauschenber’s rocket-sized Sky Garden from the Stoned Moon print series that marked the 1969 mood landings. The artist had an unrestricted access at NASA’s Florida facilities and witness the historic Apollo 11 mission while he was working on the commissioned project.

Also in the exhibition are Warhol’s Marilyn, Little Electric Chair, and his series of 10 paintings. Marilyn was completed weeks after the death of Marilyn Monroe in August 1962. The print contains 50 images of the actress.

A culturally diverse discourse

The historical exhibition presents important loans from major institutions, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.

Director of the British Museum, Hartwig Fischer, said of the show, “The museum has been building up this collection of modern and contemporary works since the hugely successful exhibition The American Scene: Prints from Hopper to Pollock in 2008, and we are very grateful to Morgan Stanley and the Terra Foundation for helping us to stage this ambitious show.” The American Scene presented 150 prints by 74 modernists, including Jackson Pollock, George Bellows, and other great artists from the British Museum’s own collection.