Thure de Thulstrup
American, b. Sweden, 1848–1930
The Strike at East St. Louis - Firing Into the Crowd, 1886
Engraving on paper
16 x 19 21 7/8 inches
Gift of Mr. Jack B. Pierson, 1990.69

Work on Paper

December 3, 2016 - January 29, 2017

Graphics Gallery

The subject of work has inspired artists across the United States. Work on Paper features 19th- and mid-20th-century artists’ drawings and prints depicting the men and women who worked to build the infrastructure and industry of America. Some artists, for commercial or aesthetic reasons, idealized the subject of work, showing laborers in contented harmony with their environments. Others cast a more realistic and critical eye on work and its difficult aspects—in both the factory and in the countryside—often reflecting their own liberal and leftist beliefs.

The artworks in this exhibition range from the late 19th century to the late 20th, but the majority were made in the 1930s and 1940s, the turbulent time in American labor history during and following the Great Depression. Several artists benefitted from federal art programs such as the Works Progress Administration (WPA), which commissioned artists to create public art. They frequently turned to printmaking as a way to produce multiple copies of their artwork that would be accessible and affordable to the masses. 

Graphics Gallery is sponsored by


From the Exhibition

  • Andrea Kantrowitz, American, b. 1959, Picket Line, Watsonville Canning, 2/2/87 12:00 p.m., 1987, Silkscreen on paper, 14 1/2 x 18 1/16 inches. Gift of Mr. Jack B. Pierson, 1991.20.1

  • Basil Hawkins, American, 1903–1982, Shop Workers, Linocut on paper, 6 1/8 x 8 7/8 inches. Gift of Madeline Anthony, 2000.130

  • Winslow Homer, American, 1836–1910, Bell-Time (from Harper’s Weekly, Saturday, July 25, 1868), 1868, Engraving on newsprint paper, 10 15/16 x 16 1/8 inches. Gift of Mr. Jack B. Pierson, 1994.11