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"Life of the People: Realist Prints and Drawings from the Ben and Beatrice Goldstein Collection, 1912-1948"
2000-10-07 until 2001-01-14
Museum of the City of New York
New York, NY, USA United States of America

If pictures tell a thousand words then the prints and drawings collected by Ben and Beatrice Goldstein tell millions. Capturing the triumphs and tragedies of the American people during a period of economic uncer-tainty and social unrest Life of the People: Realist Prints and Drawings from the Ben and Beatrice Goldstein Collection, 1912-1948, presents 59 works drawn from this out-standing collection of some two thousand prints and drawings. Opening in New York City, the hometown of Ben Goldstein, at the Museum of the City of New York on October 7, 2000, this exhibition offers an extraordinary overview of the images that shaped the his-tory of American political art.

Labor advocate and garment manufacturer Ben Goldstein and his wife Beatrice, left to the Library of Congress and the nation a collection of American prints, drawings, and paintings, informed as very few art collections have been, by a sympathy for the condition of working people. Born in 1909, Ben came of age at the beginning of the Great Depression. During his life he amassed a remarkable collection of works on paper that speak of political struggle, of the travails of working people, and of the urban industrial experience. The prints and drawings in Life of the People were created during a period of intense polit-ical and social activism beginning just before World War I and ending after World War II.

The exhibition highlights images from the 1930s, a time when the turmoil and uncertainty of the Depression led increasing numbers of artists to turn toward social concerns for their subject matter. Along with important examples of political art such as Robert Minors iconic drawing Pittsburgh, the exhibition features work depicting the plight of rural America during the Depression, as in Wastelands by artist Joe Jones. Also included are humorous, light-hearted depictions of life in the early twentieth century, such as Martin Lewiss Boss of the Block and Mabel Dwights The Clinch, Movie Theatre.

Life of the People is organized in five sections: Art of the People, The Radical Impulse, Capital and Labor, City Life, and The American Scene. These sections represent a broad spectrum of social and political issues concerning labor and industry, life in the urban centers, work and play in rural areas, and the experience and achievements of minority groups. Urban and industrial themes coexist with images of the land, suggesting connec-tions between working people of all types, from builders and miners to soldiers, farmers, and office girls.

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