Following World War II, Americans poured out of cities and into suburban housing developments on a wave of economic prosperity. The desire to own a new home on a quiet street was contagious, and by 1950 a quarter of the U.S. population lived in the suburbs. Today, more than half of all Americans do.
As the suburbs have grown, so has their place in popular culture. Movies, TV, literature, and the arts show suburbia not only as the American Dream but also as a bed of isolation, segregation, frustrated femininity, and compromised masculinity. Such complex and sometimes contradictory representations reveal the diverse experiences of people whose everyday lives diverge from the seemingly uniform neighborhoods they call home.
Navigating suburbia’s varied and evolving identities, the prints, drawings, and photographs on view in Always Greener form a rich portrait of suburban life. Suburbia’s grass may not always be greener, but it provides fertile ground for artistic exploration. Diane Arbus, Philip Guston, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Robert Rauschenberg, Cindy Sherman, and Larry Sultan are just a few of the artists represented.
Always Greener: Seeing and Seeking Suburbia—Selections from the Museum’s Collection | August 21, 2018–February 3, 2019