America! America! – How real is real?

Myths, projections, aspirations: In times of “fake news“ and “alternative facts“ it is becoming even more clear how the American Dream is closely interwoven with emotional pictures and symbols. At the same time, it can be said that no other nation might have the same strong awareness of the power of images. Images of the “American Way of Life“, which are produced in media and entertainment are able to consolidate existing power structures and perceptions of reality, but also question them in a radical way.

By showing about 70 master pieces of US-contemporary art like Andy Warhol’s Race Riot (1964), Jeff Koon’s life-sized sculpture Bear and Policeman (1988) or Jenny Holzer’s illuminated installation Truisms (1994), America! America! How real is real? shows how artists from the 1960s to date comment on the American reality. With works from the collection Frieder Burda and countless other top-class loans, the exhibition invites you to a tour through the visual culture of America.

Stars of pop art like Andy Warhol, Roy Liechtenstein or James Rosenquist have already transformed the surface of consumer culture into an artform which tells of tremendous allurement and cool distance. By adopting methods of commercial image production, they part with the traditional perception of authenticity. The sense of alienation is also embodied in the works of the great US-painters of the 1980s. The psychologically charged canvasses of Eric Fischl, the hermetical scenes of Alex Katz. The enormous film-noir-like graffiti drawings of Robert Longo dissect dreams and fears of an unsettled white middle-class. At the same time, rising artists like Jeff Wall or Cindy Sherman critically reflect our medially coined perception. They become role-models for future generations. With the strategies of conceptual art, performance and photography they create visual worlds where the borderlines between reality and staged life are blurred.

How real is real?

This publication was released on the occasion of the eponymous exhibition from December 9th 2017 – May 21st 2018 in the museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden.


Additional information


Helmut Friedel for the Foundation Frieder Burda


Brigitte von Stebut, Christiane Righetti, Christoph Neuberger, Helmut Friedel, Heribert Pranti, Judith Irrgang


BUREAU Mario Lombardo


23 x 28 cm