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collections > permanent collection > paintings >WILLIAM GROPPER
 
William Gropper
(American, 1897-1977)
Winter Scene, n.d.
Watercolor on paper, 24" x 17"
Gift of the Frank and Margaret Sullivan Fund
(2000.150)

 

Remembered primarily for his trenchant satire, William Gropper was also a talented landscapist.  In the Museum’s undated Winter Scene, the sharply-delineated edges of trees and pond contrast with freely-washed passages of watercolor, creating a vivid impression of a cold, wet winter day.  As in his figure studies, Gropper here reveals his gift for evoking poignant feeling from his chosen subject.

 

Born to immigrant parents in New York City, Gropper grew up in an environment of hard work and financial difficulty.  He studied with Ashcan School painters George Bellows and Robert Henri, and in 1917 he set out as a cartoonist with the New York Tribune. The first of many such positions, Gropper devoted his art to left-leaning social causes for the remainder of his career.  During the Depression years, the artist emerged as an influential commentator.  His radical stance persisted into the 1950s, and for refusing to testify before Joseph McCarthy’s House Un-American Activities Committee, Gropper was blacklisted.  At the same time, Abstract Expressionism was coming to the fore as the new “American” style.  Gropper remained active, however, and among other projects, he staged important exhibitions in London and Mexico City.  The unrest of the 1960s led to a renewed interest in the artist, and he received a number of honors before his death in 1977.