United State Mint--In God We Trust

  • Alexander A. Maldonado, United State Mint--In God We Trust, 1972, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson, 1986.65.125

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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.
United State Mint--In God We Trust
Not on view
14 x 18 in. (35.5 x 45.7 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson

Mediums Description
oil on canvas
  • Figure group
  • Architecture Exterior – detail – tower
  • Landscape – road – highway
  • Architecture Exterior – civic – U. S. Mint
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI