Friday, December 04, 2015

Arty Farty Friday ~ William Gropper, artist, cartoonist & radical .

This artist's name was unfamiliar to me, but his subject matter echoes down the years to remain relevant still - only names and fashions change.

William (Bill) Gropper was born on 3 December 1897 in New York City, died, January 6, 1977. The six and a half minute video, below, provides a little biographical detail along with some examples of his work. The second part of the video concentrates on Gropper's drawings of the 1937 Youngstown, Ohio "Little Steel Strike".

From Heritage Gallery
William Gropper, a major painter of Social Realism and illustrator of political cartoons, was born in New York City in 1897. He studied with Robert Henri and George Bellows. He took realistic art and turned it into pungent critique of the ills of modern society. He spoke of the hypocrisy of its leaders, most notably members of the government in Washington. At the same time, his sympathy for the laborer, the displace person, and the underdog gave his art a humanitarian warmth that muffled any propagandistic shrillness. His incisive views are still relevant as we approach the 21st century. His works are in most major collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Metropolitan Museum.

Gropper’s best-known subject matter is the satiric caricature of America's wealthy and powerful, of politicians, and moguls of business and industry. In this era, his art is so relevant, It is, as though, the cycle has come in its full circle, pointing out the relevant elements that have made our society go wrong for the people. Ironically it was wealthy collectors who sought these images for their collections. Now the paintings, drawings and prints are purchased by collectors who see his meaning in today's world.

A few of his cartoons and one of his paintings

 The Sweatshop


Chart set for 12 noon on 3 December 1897, New York City. Time of birth isn't known.

I suspect that Gropper's background as much as his astrology shaped the orientation of his artistry.
(Click on image for clearer version)

 From book by By Louis Lozowick

That he had Sun plus four planets in Sagittarius gave him unbounded enthusiasm, and with planet of the arts, Venus, conjunct Chiron in Scorpio he made his passion for his subject very clear. Without a time of birth rising sign isn't known - Aquarius would be a good bet!

Moon would have been in impetuous Aries whatever his time of birth, and likely in trine to one or more of his Sagittarius planets.

The pattern astrologers call a "mystic rectangle" showing clearly in the chart does depend on exact position of Moon, but this interpretation, from Cafe Astrology fits well
The Mystic Rectangle, or Rectangle, is comprised of two opposition aspects, connected with two trine and two sextile aspects. The harmonious trines and sextile aspects can be considered release points for the tension of the oppositions. The native can be attracted to important causes. There is a strong chance that the native will put his or her talents to work, or to good use.


mike said...

I've always appreciated editorial and political cartoonists that can succinctly condense much-to-say into one witty illustration. I'm sure I've seen his work, but like you, didn't know about him. He's one more of the famous from the stellium in Sagittarius epoch that had remarkable influence.

I see that he was part of the Works Progress Administration during the depression years and one of his famous pieces is "William Gropper's America, Its Folklore":

"The presence of this map in American information offices overseas provoked Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s suspicions. As Gropper’s biographer Louis Lozowick writes, the 1953 summons to testify for the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations about the map was quite ironic, given that its content was anything but subversive. McCarthy simply didn’t like Gropper’s past associations. Gropper pled the Fifth and refused to testify for McCarthy—a stance that lost him many commissions."

Sonny G said...

I'm sure he was a nice person but the first thing that grabbed my attention was his last name-- ewwwww:) I'd of changed that for sure..

his art turns me off so I wouldnt have looked at it long enough to appreciate his intentions..

good for his defying McCarthy,, and on that note- I just figured out who Ted Cruz reminds me off- 'cept Ted has a weaker chin:)

geez I'm just full of cheer today, huh .. lol

I'll go back and listen to the links Kidd posted yesterday and try to improve my mood..

Twilight said...

mike ~ Yes, McCarthy had him in his sights - the map was the least subversive of any of his stuff, far as I can tell looking at images online.

Interesting how nothing much has changed, apart from names and fashions ain't it?

Twilight said...

Sonny ~ I suppose his name could be an anglicised version of a longer tongue-twisting foreign name - from Romania or Ukraine - his parents' original homelands.

His anger/passion/annoyance about politics etc. came out in his artworks - so it was unlikely to be the king of stuff one could feast eyes upon and dream. ;-)

Twilight said...

Sonny - should read "kind" of stuff!

mike (again) said...

Re nothing changes...first saw this on Matthew Currie's site, titled "The real war is in us. History is a symptom of our disease.", which is a line in the video.

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Or we could put it another way - the real war is in our DNA, and our DNA is shaped by the universe and the closest parts of the universe: the planets or their atmospheres, surrounding our planet home, and shaping us, their offspring.
That's my story and I'm....well ya know. ;-)