The exhibition “Good Dreams, Bad Dreams - American Mythologies” brings together the work of over 56 artists and more than 160 pieces from the Tony and Elham Salame Collection. Borrowing its title from an installation by Allen Ruppersberg, the exhibition features the work of a multigenerational group of artists who engage in a complex analysis of American popular culture, entertaining a love and hate relationship with the founding myths of the American dream.
“Good Dreams, Bad Dreams” is the second exhibition in a series of presentations of the Tony and Elham Salame collection at their recently opened Aïshti Foundation in Beirut, designed by David Adjaye. It follows the inaugural exhibition “New Skin” which focused on the intersection of abstraction and information in contemporary painting.
Encompassing more than 2000 pieces by various artists, the Tony and Elham Salame collection has grown at vertiginous speed throughout the last decade, establishing the Aïshti Foundation as one of the most energetic institutions in the Middle East and beyond. The new building of the Aïshti Foundation comprises 4.000 square meters of exhibition space. With its red aluminum tubular structure, the façade – one of the most distinctive features of the architecture designed by David Adjaye – envelops the edifice in a scrim of multiple layers and geometric patterns which open onto vistas of the costal landscape and the bustling urban life of Beirut.
At the core of the Tony and Elham Salame collection is a group of artists who have chronicled dramatic changes in the cultural and artistic history of America from the 1980s to today. “Growing up in Lebanon, for me and for many people in my generation, America had come to symbolize an idea of freedom and power which was incarnated in a life style we both wanted to embrace and refuse” says Tony Salame, the CEO of Aïshti and the founder of its contemporary art foundation. “So when I started collecting, it came quite natural that I would gravitate towards artists who equally celebrate and criticize the American dream”.
“Good Dreams, Bad Dreams” includes important works by pioneers of conceptual art such as John Baldessari and Allen Ruppersberg presented in dialogue with contributions by artists from later generations. Significant holdings and major pieces by Richard Prince and Raymond Pettibon anchor the exhibition, injecting it with their vitriolic commentaries. Works by Lutz Bacher, Rachel Harrison, Klara Liden, Joyce Pensato, and Amanda Ross-Ho, among others, add further irreverence, while paintings by George Condo, David Salle and Julian Schnabel combine classicism with grotesque representations of American folklore. Recent works by Theaster Gates, Rashid Johnson, and Glenn Ligon offer critical insight on issues of exclusion and participation, which have become even more poignant in a time of renewed racial conflicts. Kathryn Andrews, Lucas Blalock, Dan Colen, Alex, and Nate Lowman, among others, embrace the legacy of Pop Art and attune it to a new contemporary sensibility: their pictures of common objects describe a world in which products have gone crazy and identities are designed and packaged like new commodities.
The exhibition features works by, among others: Doug Aitken, Allora & Calzadilla, Alex, Kathryn Andrews, Charles Atlas, Lutz Bacher, John Baldessari, Lucas Blalock, Vern Blosum, John Chamberlain, Dan Colen, George Condo, Sam Durant, Urs Fischer, Llyn Foulkes, Theaster Gates, Wade Guyton, David Hammons, Duane Hanson, Rachel Harrison, Robert Heinecken, Christian Holstad, Jacqueline Humphries, Rashid Johnson, Gavin Kenyon, Josh Kline, Zachary Leener, Klara Liden , Glenn Ligon , Jason Loebs, Robert Longo, Nate Lowman, Adam McEwen, Sam Moyer, Joyce Pensato, Raymond Pettibon, Jack Pierson, Richard Prince, Amanda Ross-Ho, Sterling Ruby, Aida Ruilova, Allen Ruppersberg, Julian Schnabel, Analia Saban, David Salle, Steven Shearer, Geidi Sibony, Valerie Snobeck, Oscar Tuazon, Piotr Uklanski, Kari Upson, Danh Vo, Stewart Uoo, Kara Walker, Kelley Walker, Kehinde Wiley, Sue Williams.