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About the Object
Lawmakers were threatening to cut significant federal funding for the arts when political cartoonist and painter William Gropper satirized the United States Senate in The Opposition. Gropper wrote, “I have portrayed the type of representative that is opposed to progress and culture. The U.S. Senate…[has] such an influence on American life, good and bad, that it has even affected the artist and the cultural development of our country.”
[Gallery label text, 2007]
William Gropper was best known for his caustic commentary on the American political and social scene. He depicted realistic and identifiable subjects; The Opposition was one of a number of paintings and illustrations that came out of his 1934 assignment for the magazine Vanity Fair, to sketch legislators in action in Washington. Gropper made no bones about his distaste for politics and used his art to further his point of view:
"I have portrayed the type of representative that is opposed to progress and culture. The U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives have had such an influence on American life, good and bad, that it has even affected the artist and the cultural development of our country. No matter how far removed from politics artists may be, it seems to strike home. Only recently one blasting speech of a reactionary representative resulted in not only doing away with the Section of Fine Art, but also dismissing the Graphic Division of the OWI [Office of War Information] and nullifying art reportage for the War Department."
Gropper's start as a newspaper illustrator informed the creative processes of the rest of his life. His work retained his journalist's interest in issues of the day, giving it a particularly topical essence presented in a dynamic, expressionistic format.
[Gallery label text, 2006]
See a lithograph of this subject by the same artist: The Opposition 89.59