Media File
William Gropper
Date: American painter and printmaker, 1897–1977
Biography: A political radical, Gropper is best known for his cartoons and illustrations for left-wing publications, including The New Masses and The Liberator. The child of Jewish immigrants from Romania and Ukraine, Gropper grew up on the Lower East Side of New York. He and his family worked in the garment industry's sweatshops, and one of his aunts died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911. He first studied art at the Ferrer School with Robert Henri and George Bellows. In 1915 he won a scholarship to the New York School of Fine and Applied Arts, and in 1917 he joined the staff of the New York Tribune, drawing cartoons for Sunday features. He was active in the New York Socialist and Communist community, getting to know the artists at The Masses and contributing to The Liberator, as well as mainstream publications like The Bookman and The Dial. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Gropper painted murals for the Interior Building in Washington, D.C., and the Detroit Post Office, and built a reputation as a Social Realist painter. Due to his radical politics, Gropper was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1953 and was among the first American artists to be blacklisted. The experience inspired his series of lithographs, Caprichos.