Tools for Redress: A Century of Political Art

In the fall of 1929, the same month as the collapse of the American stock market, editors from the leftist magazine New Masses met in New York City to form a federation of artists, writers, and intellectuals. Initially unaffiliated with any political party, the magazine and its newly established federation, the John Reeds Club, aligned themselves with the American Communist Party barely a year later. The JRC expanded outside of New York and immediately began exhibiting the works of its artists, drafting in 1932 a manifesto in which they called upon “all honest writers and artists to abandon decisively the treacherous illusion that art can exist for art’s sake, or that the artist can remain remote from the historic conflicts.” Today, a selection of this art can be found at The Left Front: Radical Art in the “Red Decade,” 1929-1940, an exhibition at NYU’s Grey Art Gallery named after the JRC’s own publication.