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United State Mint--In God We Trust

1972 Alexander A. Maldonado Born: Mazatlan, Mexico 1901 Died: San Francisco, California 1989 oil on canvas 14 x 18 in. (35.5 x 45.7 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson 1986.65.125 Not currently on view

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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.

This artwork was recommended by citizen curators as part of our Fill the Gap project on Flickr. They said:

"I like cars." Alexandre, Mrs. Keier's Class

"It looks interesting. It also shows how money oriented the USA is."

"United State? The missing "s"-- You gotta showcase it! It's so sovereign."


Architecture Exterior - civic - U. S. Mint

Architecture Exterior - detail - tower

Figure group

Landscape - road - highway


folk art

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

About Alexander A. Maldonado

Born: Mazatlan, Mexico 1901 Died: San Francisco, California 1989

More works in the collection by
Alexander A. Maldonado