A Special Collections
Research Center Exhibition
16 September, 2005
E.S. Bird Library, 6th floor
Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cartoonist, painter, lithographer, and muralist
William Gropper was born on the Lower East Side of New York City into
a working-class Jewish family that labored in the sweatshops of the garment
industry. Like many of his peerssuch as Philip Evergood, Joseph
Hirsch, Louis Lozowick, and Anton RefregierGropper rebelled against
the formal theories of art that were prevalent at the time. Preferring
to depict the harsh reality of social injustices as they were played out
in everyday life, Gropper became a defender of the working class. He was
best known for his satirical portrayals of the elite and powerful and
the effects of capitalism and war on American life.
Major exhibits of Gropper's work have been
held throughout the United States and abroad in Paris, Rome, Moscow, Warsaw,
Prague, Sofia, and Mexico City. Gropper received a Guggenheim Fellowship
in the 1930s to travel to the Midwest and make studies for a series of
paintings on the Dust Bowl. In 1944, he was awarded first prize for lithography
in the Artists for Victory exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum
of Art in New York. He was elected to the American Academy and Institute
of Arts and Letters in 1968. His last major exhibition of drawings traveled
throughout the U.S. in 1971 and 1972. He was a resident of Great Neck,
New York, at the time of his death in 1977.
1. Cartoonists' Journal 1, no. 2
2. Typescript that contains Gropper's "general
outline of my story and pictures," n.d.
Gropper began exhibiting his artwork in
the 1930s. He had his first one-man show at the ACA (American Contemporary
Artists) Gallery in New York in 1936, and he continued to exhibit there
throughout his career.
3. Exhibition catalog, Heritage Gallery,
Los Angeles, 1968.
4. Exhibition catalog, A.C.A. Gallery, New
In 1944, friends and fellow artists held
an honorary dinner for Gropper on the occasion of his forty-seventh birthday.
Organized by Edward K. Barsky, M.D., chairman of the Joint Anti-Fascist
Refugee Committee, the event was hosted by screenwriter and producer Edward
Chodorov. Principal speakers included Norman Corwin, Frederick Myers,
and Carl Sandburg. Tributes were given by Dean Dixon, Dorothy Parker,
Henry Varnum Poor, Captain Orest Shevsov, and Margaret Lombardo Toledano.
Among the sponsors were Louis Adamic, Aaron Copeland, Howard Fast, Rockwell
Kent, Louis Lozowick, W. Somerset Maugham, Anton Refregier, Paul Robeson,
Louis Slobodkin, and Moses Soyer. At the dinner, Gropper was presented
with a scrapbook filled with birthday greetings from fellow artists, writers,
labor rights workers, and others who appreciated his work.
5. Scrapbook presented to Gropper to honor
him on his birthday dinner in 1944. The book is opened to an illustrated
greeting from Cuban artist Mario Carreño.
6. Birthday program in which "Edward
Chodorov invites you to a dinner honoring William Gropper," Hotel
Commodore, New York, 4 December 1944.
7. Birthday letter to Gropper from novelist
and screenwriter Guy Endore, 4 December 1944.