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“We are going through a deep dark valley”: Social anxiety and the success of the art of Haddon Sundblom and Warner Sallman
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social and Economic Geography.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5123-1357
2015 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

American artists Haddon Sundblom and Warner Sallman were the creators of some of the most famous images of the 20th century. They both also happen to have roots in the same small municipality in the Åland Islands archipelago. Sundblom created the famous images of Santa Claus for Coca-Cola’s yearly Christmas advertisments, and Sallman painted the famous “Head of Christ” image of Jesus. The purpose of this paper is to seek an explanation for the astounding success of their images. I begin by reviewing some letters sent by American immigrants from Åland back home to their relatives in the municipality of Föglö, where Sundblom’s and Sallman’s fathers came from, during the period 1933-1951. These letters eloquently express the tensions and anxiety faced by the general population during this time of depression and war. The paper then proceeds to examine the social psychological dynamics experienced by Americans during this period through a consideration of the historical literature. The tentative argument presented in the paper holds that the images of Sundblom and Sallman represented two kinds of gods: a god of commercialism (Santa) and a god of Christianity (Jesus), both figures being made more accessible and comforting than they previously had been experienced by consumers of these images.

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Human Geography
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URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-287519OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-287519DiVA: diva2:922872
Nordic Association of American Studies 24th Biennial Conference
Available from: 2016-04-25 Created: 2016-04-25 Last updated: 2016-04-25

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Jansson, David
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