US Highway 1 was acquired by American Art earlier this year. This post is part of an ongoing series spotlighting works that have been recently added to the collection.
What is it about the open road and the American landscape that artists and writers have found so inspiring? It's a little different on the East Coast than it is on the West. Jack Kerouac's road is not Robert Frost's is not Ed Ruscha's. I think the road is where the imagination lives. Roads and highways conjure up freedom, democracy, and a kind of individuality, even if you're not the first traveler on the road before you.
Allan D'Arcangelo is one of my favorite "roadies," and American Art recently acquired his US Highway 1 from 1962, the first of five similarly themed works he'd create over the next year. D’Arcangelo has long been considered a leading figure among the first generation of American Pop artists. He is best known for pared-down images of highways and road signs, and prompted one critic to observe that D’Arcangelo came to embody American “highway culture” of the 1960s.
Ah, the 1960s. Things were good, but change was in the air. In 1963, the poet Louis Simpson wrote that Walt Whitman's open road "now leads to the used car lot." I'm not sure where D'Arcangelo's road leads. The colors are captivating, the dark of the trees, the blue of the sky, and the sun yellow of the Sunoco sign. I wouldn't mind being on that road...
In this season of road trips, do you have any highway stories to share?