Glass reviews Generation Wealth by Lauren Greenfield

ONE-UPMANSHIP stakes have never been higher than they are today. No longer content with limiting the competition to neighbours and friends and neighbours, today’s status chasers look to the cult of questionable celebrity for their aspirational aims, taking cue from reality TV (Keeping Up with the Kardashians being thus born) as a guide to living life to its material fullest.

Generation Wealth coverGeneration Wealth book cover

Lauren Greenfield is an acute observer of consumer culture, and her photographic chronicle of its excesses and the many rivulets that feed into it make for a compelling read. Starting suitably in the City of Angels (its tribes of affluent kids, including a preteen Kim K, subjects of her first book) and venturing to the rest of America and beyond, we meet self-proclaimed beauty queens, unguarded “‘celebrities”’ and elusive denizens of old-money bastions; many interviewed for the book.


Generation Wealth 1Image from Generation Wealth

Greenfield’s insights provide context to many of the images — say the tiers of snobbery represented by access to rooms within a simple- looking beach club, for example. As a document of modern times, it is undoubtedly valuable and, many times, very compelling — few photobooks but the best manage to evoke disgust, sadness, hope and reflection of the part we have to play in the circus of façade. It is not unusual to see ostentatious displays of wealth in any big city. Capturing how it consumes and polarises is far rarer.

Generation Wealth 4Image from Generation Wealth

Generation Wealth 3Image from Generation Wealth

by Ethan Long 

Generation Wealth, by Laura Greenfield. Published by Phaidon and retailing at £59.95

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