courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
O.Louis Guglielmi (1906-1956) was an American painter. He was well-known in New York, but soon forgotten after his death, as abstract expressionism came to overshadow artists like him. There are elements of precisionism, surrealism, geometric abstraction, regionalism, and social realism in his work. His paintings often commented on poverty and other social and political themes; bleakness and death appear regularly in his pre-war works. With Walter Quirt and James Guy, he was a prominent exponent of "social surrealism". After the war his painting became more planar and abstract, with elements of cubism, and he disavowed the personal sadness in his earlier works in favour of expressing the "exuberance and organic means of life itself".
The title of this work references President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1937 inaugural address, in which he proclaimed, "I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished." "One Third of a Nation" is also the title of Arthur Arent’s 1938 play, which emphasized the plight of the poor and was funded by the WPA’s Federal Theatre Project. In this painting Guglielmi draws attention to the horrid living conditions during the Great Depression. The forms in the foreground resemble coffins, and subsequently suggest a similar reading of the brick tenements behind them. The floral wreath adorning the building’s cornice reinforces this metaphor.
the above text appears on the back of the card HC-1131: card size 7" x 5" (178mm x 127mm)