“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 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 amounts of underpainting 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. 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. By applying 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 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. There was no such thing as instant internet celebrities. 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 concept of personal idols with those of mainstream culture, Mars can focus his work on a deeper analysis of the Golden Age of American personalities. 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. He is attuned 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.
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 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 a tremendous struggle going on with civil rights and wars, there was still an overall positive outlook.”