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Alexander A. Maldonado, born Mazatlan, Mexico 1901-died San Francisco, CA 1989  Search this
oil on canvas
14 x 18 in. (35.5 x 45.7 cm.)
Folk Art
Luce Center Label:
Known as the "painter of the impossible," Alexander Maldonado created colorful paintings of imaginary worlds free from pollution, bigotry, and parking problems. His use of neon colors, coupled with the futuristic, fanciful architecture, has often been described as "Las Vegas Gothic." In United State Mint—In God We Trust, Maldonado gives us his version of what government architecture will look like in the future. The United States Mint has a facility in San Francisco, where Maldonado lived for much of his life; however, the building's severe concrete façade bears no resemblance to the sleek black structure in this painting. The 5,572-foot elevation above sea level, too , is a marked difference from that of San Francisco, where the highest point is only 925 feet. The people in the foreground peer over a guardrail and across a busy highway to the Mint building atop rolling hills. By creating a number of obstacles between them and the building, Maldonado could be suggesting that the gap between upper and lower classes will not be any closer in the future. The colored dots used across the canvas are a common element throughout many of Maldonado's paintings, and he once claimed to have used over 100 colors in a single image.
Figure group  Search this
Landscape\road\highway  Search this
Architecture Exterior\detail\tower  Search this
Architecture Exterior\civic\U. S. Mint  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson
Object number:
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Smithsonian American Art Museum Collection
Painting and Sculpture
Data Source:
Smithsonian American Art Museum