New York City, NY
Printmaker, painter and visual editorialist, William Gropper (1897-1977), spent six decades bearing witness. Growing up in poverty on the Lower East Side, Gropper learned early about social injustice. He dropped out of school to work in the sweatshops but found respite in drawing and studied with Robert Henri and George Bellows. Gropper’s aunt was a victim of 1911’s Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, which further radicalized his thinking. Along with his study of artists who came before him, it was the graphic works of Goya and Daumier that helped solidify his direction as an artist.
From 1915-1935, Gropper held staff positions on various publications, from Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, the New York Tribune and Smart Set, to leftist papers such as the New Masses, The Nation and the Sunday Worker. Incredibly prolific, for the Yiddish Freiheit alone, over an eleven year period Gropper created thousands of political cartoons.
Gropper began to paint in the 1920s, but didn’t exhibit until 1936. (…) From 1953-1956, Gropper derived inspiration from Goya’s Los Caprichos, depicting late 18th-century Spain and its discontents, (…) illuminating the horrors of the paranoia and scapegoating he suffered in those years.
Credit: Exhibition Overview from the Queens Museum website.