The Impossible Dream...It's all the same

Accession Number

The Impossible Dream...It's all the same

Sir Eduardo Paolozzi

Artist Nationality
British (modern)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
photolithograph on paper

14 15/16 in x 10 in (38 cm x 25.4 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Professor Diane M. Kirkpatrick

Subject matter
Like many of his contemporaries, Paolozzi used new printing techniques as a way to engage with modern mass media's new visual culture. At the same time, the photomechanical process made the work look mechanically manufactured rather than hand-made, in the traditional artistic sense. Therefore after he modified, transformed, and assembled the source image(s), the medium would allow for a more uniform final image.

This print is one of a large series of 50 prints included in the 1970 portfolio, which was a second edition of an earlier group of slightly-larger prints titled "Moonstrips Empire News." While the first series was strictly produced as screenprints, this second series "General Dynamic F.U.N." includes works of photolithography, like this one. The themes seen in this portfolio are different in style and subject matter from other Pop works of the period, but engage with the images of a modern mass media, looking beyond just advertising and publicity images. Likewise, the title of the portfolio alludes to the General Dynamics Corporation, who was the manufacturer of the F-111 fighter used during the Vietnam War—the same one referenced in James Rosenquist monumental painting "F-111."

The American Dream is fairly literally referenced in the title of this work and, at the same time, it refers to the award winning song "The Impossible Dream," composed by Mitch Leigh for the 1965 Broadway musical Man of La Mancha. The track is listed under the first image on the top left, under the Snoopy "K" block, and double vinyl records replace one of the alphabet squares at the bottom center. For the text below each square, it is likely that Paolozzi used a similar source to that of his Smash hit, Good Loving, plus Like a Rolling Stone, Slow Down, etc. in this series—sourced from RCA Victor Record Club advertisements selling popular records through subscription. However, like other prints of this series, the meaning is not so straightfoward. The song was rumored to be Robert F. Kennedy's favorite song and was recorded by his friend Andy Williams in 1968, the year Kennedy was assassinated. It is not coincidence, therefore, that the title of the song is paired with the letter "K" in the print. Here, the children's alphabet—in non-sequential order—takes on an ominous tone. Also, the inset at the lower left showing a rocket-like plane may point to "Bobby" Kennedy's time as Attorney General during the 1962 Cuban Missle Crisis that took place when, his brother, President John F. Kennedy was in office, just before his own assassination.

Physical Description
Photolithographic print with a large black rectangle, almost centered top to bottom, with a grid of small colorful square scenes and accompanying text. To the bottom left there are four segments of the grid missing with a larger white rectange with black on the interior. Inside the rectangle there is a circle with an abstracted image of a triangular object. The images of the grid are, for the most part, cartoon characters with accompanying alphabetical letters.

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area
Modern and Contemporary

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
Pop (fine arts styles)
alphabet blocks
music (performing arts)
sound transmitting and reproducing equipment

& Author Notes

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