“I do have nostalgia for the years before I was born… From my perspective, America at that time conveyed a tone of hope and prosperity. People had pride in their work and pride in our country.”
A graduate of Parsons School of Design in New York, artist Robert Mars begins his creative process by preparing the surface with multiple layers of brown paper in order to define the edges and delineate the background planes of color. He then alternates layers of paint and vintage paper ephemera, sanding away portions of the layers as he works, revealing the desired portions of under painting with the overall intention to provide the viewer with a muted window into America’s past. Chronicling this fascination with 1950s and 60s iconography, Mars has produced a body of artwork from his studio in New York that celebrates the commonplace objects and icons of an America long past, in a thoroughly modern and exquisitely constructed manner. His eye for a distinct facet of American history is impeccable and his ability to manipulate the color and wordplay of vintage printed material has earned him reference with the likes of Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, and Richard Diebenkorn among other masters from the School of Pop.
Mars's artwork chronicles an evolving fascination with the Golden Age of American popular culture and celebrates the icons of the 1950s and 60s by taking inspiration from this culture long past. Through the application of a rich color palette and tongue-in-cheek attitude, Mars’ paintings evoke a vintage quality of design and pay homage to the idealized age of growth and hopefulness that was prevalent in the USA at the end of the Depression. A time before the internet and mobile technology, where information was not instantly available to millions and there was no such thing as instant internet celebrities, and instead people lived with the myth of the unique, untouchable and unforgettable personalities of Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, Audrey Hepburn and Elvis Presley.
By merging his own concept of personal idols with those of mainstream culture, Mars is able to focus his work on a deeper analysis of the Golden Age of American personalities. As an artist, he has always been fascinated with 1950s and 60s culture, and his early work reflects many of the architectural and mechanical icons from this era. Muscle cars, motels, logos and hulking monuments to the "modern" feeling of the time permeate his early canvases. More recently however, Mars’ artwork has shifted toward the culture of celebrity and he is amazingly attuned to the fact that these instantly recognizable and larger-than-life personalities continue to resonate with contemporary American culture.
Robert Mars’ artwork is exhibited worldwide including museum collections in Munich, Tokyo, Amsterdam, London, Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Laguna Beach, Atlanta, Aspen and Naples. His artwork has also been selected for the upcoming Absolut Vodka 2011 campaign alongside Damien Hirst and he was also recently commissioned by Oceania Cruise Lines to create site specific pieces for their newest cruise ship, the Marina.
[When asked about his intrigue in 1950s & 60s American culture] "I do have nostalgia for the years before I was born. I attribute it to a few things. First is the apparent influence of the many facets of design and art from that era. When we look at everything from architecture, typography, and automotive and furniture design, there is a definite influence from the mid-century. Second is there is an inherent mystique of the years before I was born, with a culture that influenced future generations. From my perspective, America at that time conveyed a tone of hope and prosperity. People had pride in their work and pride in our country. It seemed that even though there was tremendous struggle going on with civil rights and wars, there was still an overall positive outlook."