A closer look: “Worker and Machine” (1928) at The Huntington

Ideas & Opinion · Visual arts

Hugo Gellert, Worker and Machine, 1928, oil on board, 30 1/2 × 30 7/8 in.
Collection of Sandra and Bram Dijkstra

The anonymous working man in this painting, “Worker and Machine” (1928) by Hungarian-born artist Hugo Gellert, is one of nineteen striking canvases exhibited in “Art for the People,” a boutique collection of paintings, a gift to The Huntington by Sandra and Bram Dijkstras. The works figure among those generated by Federal Works Progress Administration (WPA) artists of the 1930s and early 1940s, employed by the government to help stimulate the post-Depression economy. The Dijkstra Collection culls from across the United States, with strong representation by California artists, artists of color, women artists, and Jewish artists who may have been omitted from the WPA-era narrative. It includes paintings that are often described as American Expressionism or American Scene, depicting both urban and rural subjects and focusing on the lives of average Americans.

I took myself to see this show on a glorious December afternoon, my birthday in fact. Followed by a stroll in The Huntington’s extensive rose gardens, a marvelous “brain worker”‘s afternoon off.

Show will travel to Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, California; the Oceanside Museum of Art in Oceanside, California.

Art for the People: WPA-Era Paintings from the Dijkstra Collection | The Huntington | thru March 18

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