The opening night of Keith Mayerson’s exhibition “My American Dream: Berlin Edition” featured a conversation on American painting with Keith Mayerson, Adam Weinberg (Whitney Museum of American Art), and Ortrud Westheider (Museum Barberini), moderated by Kimberly Marteau Emerson (Embassy of the United States of America).
My American Dream: Berlin Edition is a new chapter of a ten-year project to represent and complicate the fiction of America and the possibilities of its painterly representation. Mayerson, an acclaimed draftsman and professor for both fine art and cartooning, has also published a number of graphic novels Horror Hospital Unplugged with Dennis Cooper (1996/2011). This show combines oil paintings, drawings, and graphic works. My American Dream: Berlin Edition presents works arranged by three themes: Destiny, Pioneers, and Rebels. Destiny comprises paintings of landscapes and sites important to Mayerson's narrative such as the Rocky Mountains and Elvis' Memphis home, Graceland. The drawings in Pioneers feature civil rights leaders and powerful cultural icons such as Harriet Tubman and César Chávez – whose portraits are drawn with graphite a pastel colors on velour paper, creating a sense of strange softness and three-dimensionality but at the same time amplifying colors – making the top of a "VOTE"-badge on César Chávez appear like a wildly colored caterpillar. Rebels features paintings representing James Dean, as well as the graphic novel James Dean: My Life in Pictures.
Keith Mayerson is a contemporary painter, known for his work encompassing portraits, historical scenes, landscapes, and more. Through his paintings, Mayerson creates broader narratives, citing comic books as an inspiration and influence. Mayerson has exhibited widely and his work is featured in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Columbus Museum of Art.
Adam D. Weinberg is the Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney Museum. Weinberg has curated exhibitions on artists such as Edward Hopper, Richard Pousette-Dart and Isamu Noguchi to Alex Katz, Robert Mangold, and Sol Lewitt. Weinberg serves as a board member of diverse organizations, including the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and Storm King Art Center.
Ortrud Westheider is the director of the Museum Barberini in Potsdam scheduled to open in January 2017. Westheider has published extensively on German and American art and has curated exhibitions on Max Beckmann, Hanne Darboven, and Willam Turner,among others. She curated the series 150 Jahre Amerikanische Kunst: 1800–1950 and is preparing an exhibition on American art at the Museum Barberini, Von Hopper bis Rothko. Amerikas Weg in die Moderne, opening June 2017.
Kimberly Marteau Emerson is a lawyer, civic leader, and advocate of the arts. She is involved in international cultural events supporting museums, collections, and artists in Berlin, and hosts U.S. cultural institutions in Germany. Emerson is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, serves on the Advisory Board of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, and is on the Board of Directors of Human Rights Watch.