One Labor Union's Unique Tribute To The Working American

During the 1912 strike of 25,000 Lawrence, Massachusetts, textile workers—the high-water mark of the Industrial Workers of the World’s turbulent career—a group of female mill hands marched under a banner that read “We Want Bread and Roses, Too.” Moved by the blunt poetry of the demand, the novelist Joel Oppenheim used it in a ballad that became the famous union song that runs, in part, “Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew./ Yes, it is bread we fight for—but we fight for roses, too!” In the years since Lawrence, many labor organizatRead more »

A Heritage Preserved

SAVING FACE

The person in the cherry picker is giving an odd sort of truth to Walter Pater’s definition of art: “All art does but consist in the removal of surplusage. ” For Phoebe Dent Weil is removing surplusage from the statue of Saint Louis that resides in Forest Park, St. Louis, just as she would like to see done to all the statues and monuments that stand in the parks, plazas, squares, and civic centers of nearly every city in the nation. Read more »

An Artist Among The Shakers

“I had come to visit the people in that quiet Shaker village upon the mountain terrace,” Benson John Lossing wrote in August of 1856. This prolific author and illustrator, best remembered for his monumental Pictorial Field Book of the Revolution , planned to write an article about the New Lebanon community for Harper’s New Monthly Magazine . His sympathetic account, illustrated with engravings based upon the watercolors in the following portfolio, appeared the following year.Read more »

The American Wing’s Fifteen Finest—a Portfolio

It is hard to imagine a task more difficult than to convey in a single article a sense of the American Wing’s near-infinite holdings. We could, on the twelve pages allotted, have run several hundred postage-stamp-size images, an awesomely tedious—and still inadequate—solution. Would it be possible, we wondered in some desperation, to choose a representative handful of superb objects and paintings, each a unique and superlative example of its kind? Read more »

“American Art Really Exists”

said a New York newspaper when the Metropolitan opened its American Wing in 1924. This spring, a new, grander American Wing once again displays the collection that Lewis Mumford found “not merely an exhibition of art,” but “a pageant of American history.”

The reopening of the Metropolitan Museum’s American Wing this spring deserves the great attention it is likely to get. During the several years that the Wing has been closed for rehabilitation and for new construction that will more than double the size of the old premises, most of the museum’s collections of American art have been in storage. But even in such confinement they continued to grow in size, scope, and importance.Read more »

Art Of The People

A major new exhibition celebrates the bright, idiosyncratic paintings of America’s folk artists

In 1938 the pioneer American folk-art enthusiast Jean Lipman set down a thoughtful answer to a question that still is being debated: what marks the difference between a primitive masterpiece and an ignorant daub? “The typical American primitive,” Lipman concluded, is “based … upon what the artist knew rather than upon what he saw, and so the facts of physical reality were largely sifted through the mind and personality of the painter.Read more »

Pricing The Past

A splendid gathering of American folk art—half a century before its time

In recent years Pine Street has become the center of Philadelphia’s antiques market, and the shopkeepers there would give a great deal to be able to visit a store that must have been the object of considerable ridicule to their turn-ofthe-century forerunners. It stood at 1237 Pine, but we have no record of what the owner called it, or even of his name. Yet, as this photograph attests, he was something of a pioneer. Most of his stock anticipates by a good half century the recent boom in folk art. Read more »

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GOOD READING

The Shattered Silents: How the Talkies Came to Stay

by Alexander Walker William Morrow and Co., Inc. 65 photographs, 218 pages, $10.95 Read more »

Comrades In Arts

A West Point Gallery

The usual image of U. S. Grant has him in his dingy infantryman’s coat, imperturbably chewing a cigar while under fire from the line on which he is willing to fight it out all summer; it is difficult to imagine him carefully putting the final touches to a watercolor.Read more »

Stonework

A photographic record of the boom years in the granite quarries of Barre, Vermont

Barre, cried one Vermont newspaper in 1893, was “The Busy Hustling Chicago of New England,” and the town itself cheerfully claimed to be the “Granite Center of the World.” Not of the world, perhaps, but certainly of the United States: in the years following the Civil War, the national enthusiasm for statues, public memorials, mausoleums, ornate tombstones, and obelisks created a tremendous market for the millions of tons of fine granite buried in the hills above the town, and by 1910 Barre was shipping $2,500,000 in quarried granite all over the world.Read more »