Upper House Essay

900 words - 4 pages

William Gropper was a committed radical and is best known for the political work which he contributed to left wing publications such as The Revolutionary Age, The Liberator, The New Masses, The Worker, and The Morning Freiheit. When he was only nineteen years old, he won a scholarship to the National Academy of Design. He got bored of working with plaster casts and enrolled in the life drawing classes of Robert Henri and George Bellows at the Ferrer School. Gropper’s social-realist paintings are simple, daring, and very lively. There are some things in his paintings that give a sense of modernism’s immediacy such as active lines, distorted forms, and energetic brushwork. However, aesthetic ...view middle of the document...

It is currently on display in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia.
William Gropper used his posters, murals and paintings for the WPA to raise awareness of political abuses, injustices against the lower classes, and the oppression of minorities in the United States. He sought to inspire social reform through Upper House, which is part of a series of paintings that mockingly shows the hypocrisy and corruption of Congress. Gropper had experience as an illustrator which helped him use exaggerated body language and facial features to express his critiques of officials who acted in their own self-interest. He also showed the insufficiency of politicians in The Opposition, which he made after Congress eliminated all FAP programs.
During the Great Depression, the Public Works of Art Project and Works Progress Administration, both part of the Federal Art Project, established a new relationship between the government and the arts. At the time when the unemployment rate was 25% of the workforce, the government recognized that artists had essential skills to contribute to society just as normal laborers do. To give “starving artists” work, congress formed the short- lived PWAP in 1933 and the better-known WPA in 1935. At their peaks, these New Deal programs helped to employ over 5,000 artists.
Unfortunately, because of his aforementioned committed radicalism, Gropper was one of the first artists that were blacklisted by Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950’s. Although he continued to produce works with social critical views, he couldn’t get his views out to as many people as he did with the WPA.
As the depression worsened the...

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