Generation Wealth is a 650-page visual history of the world’s obsession with wealth. Today the media is saturated with insights into the lives of the super-rich, where wealth watching has become a form of entertainment and exerts a huge influence over the aspirations of millions of people. The book, bound in gold cloth, contains over 150 interviews with the financial elite the world over – from Russia to China, Monaco to Bel Air.
Photographer Lauren Greenfield has been following the lives of the uber-rich and won a best director award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012 for her documentary The Queen of Versailles. In Generation Wealth she documents people of all ages, from young girls in beauty pageants, 20-somethings at Vegas pool parties, the new mega rich Chinese businessmen and women, and the ageing Americans who go under the knife in search for eternal youth.
“As Generation Wealth grows up, so does its lifestyle,” writes economist and sociologist Juliet Schor in the foreword. “This goes on to chronicle consumer excess in a world where the wealth accruing to the one percent is virtually unlimited. The consequences are predictable, if spectacular: adults engaged in competitions over homes, cars, boats, jewellery, and those irksome Birkin bags that appear and reappear through the book, getting more expensive by the chapter.”
Lauren’s exhaustive research and dedication places the photographer as an outsider on the inside. Generation Wealth is an exhaustive and giddy document of the zenith of consumer culture, where reality and fantasy merge and people will spend vast sums to shape themselves and the world into their vision. It’s terrifying, fascinating, entertaining and heartbreaking.
Generation Wealth published by Phaidon is accompanied by new film that will be released later this year and major traveling exhibition of the work that opened in Los Angeles this month. Lauren Greenfield will be in conversation with columnist and broadcaster Anne McElvoy at the Design Museum on 18 May. For more information and to book tickets click here.