Rise and Fall of "Proletarian Art," Part II
Publisher: Against the Current
Date Written: 01/09/2015
Year Published: 2015
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX21280
A historical overview and analysis of working class art during the twentieth century, including Mike Gold, Philip Reisman, and Raphael Soyer. [Part 2 of 2]
The Communist Party prided itself on its cartoonists and from 1926 to 1930 published annual volumes of Red Cartoons printed on good quality paper. In the early 1930s Burck, Fred Ellis, and William Gropper were the foremost of these. Another cartoonist, Robert Minor, who was a member of the Communist Party's Executive Committee, had provided the rationale for such art in an article of 1925 titled "Art as a Weapon in the Class Struggle" - a formulation that was a popular catch phrase in the years of the Third Period line.
Such art impressed beyond communist circles. In 1934 the critic Sheldon Cheney wrote of the illustrations in the communist press, "there is nothing in the 'regular' press to approach the vitality of the drawings appearing in such newspapers as The Daily Worker and such magazines as The New Masses. I speak not of the human content alone, but of that joint plastic-formal and human-feeling expressiveness which alone can make this sort of thing lastingly significant."