Sean Mellyn
American, born 1965
Collected by a major museum
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Selected exhibitions
REALLY? Curated by Beth Rudin DeWoody,
Wilding Cran Gallery
Tamarind Salon,
Tamarind Institute
Infinite Histories,
Tamarind Institute

In his mixed-media sculptures, paintings, prints, and drawings, Sean Mellyn sends up Americana, drawing largely from 1950s advertising imagery to present a twisted vision of American ideals. He is particularly interested in the saccharine vision of the American national character reflected in kitschy objects and advertisements, which he both mimics and mocks. As he explains: “Portraits of self-confidence and an idealized sense of perfection were important to use because they were more fun to fuck up.” Through deliberate oversimplification, airbrushed surfaces, and a Technicolor palette, Mellyn produces works that look like relics from the 1950s. Apple-cheeked children, cartoon characters, ham hocks, and decorative plates are among the subjects he disturbingly alters. In Nose Jobs (1998), for example, he paints two smiling, raven-haired girls against a crimson background—perfect in every …

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