His Masterpiece

His Masterpiece

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Francis Booth is a writer living in the south coast of England. He is also a translator and composer with his work available online. His own work is perceived to be very disturbing due to its dark nature. His writings are mainly poetry and verse dramas. He is popularly known for translation works he has done on early Buddhist work. They have been set to music and plays of Maurice Maeterlinck.

Art of the great depression in america
Art of the great depression in america

One of his best books is Comrades in Art: Revolutionary Art in America (1926-1938). The book is about America’s history of art. It talks about the radicalization of the artist from the late 1920s to the late 1930s. In 1929, there was a crash in Wall Street leading to extreme poverty more specifically in rural areas of America. At that time many artists embraced the idea of becoming revolutionary artists. The aim of the book is to explain what made a revolutionary artist.

The Communization of Arts

The artists and writers during that time became radicalized. This was through several famous causes and being involved in both the organization and portrayal of the causes. Some of the popular causes as mentioned in the book;

“… the strikes and attendant police brutality at the Passaic textile works in 1926 and the various miners’ strikes starting in 1927/28 with their attendant starvation and police brutality;”

Nothing new to see here
Nothing new to see here

The book also mentions the execution of Italian anarchists in Massachusetts for involvement in a bombing incident in 1927. There were other cases mentioned such as the Scottsboro Boys case, attempts to free Tom Mooney and Warren billing etc. These acts are some of the reasons that drove artists and writers to protests. The events affected the whole society in different ways such as failure of capitalism. At that time the Soviet Union seemed to grow under Communism.

With the use of images and pictures taken from that time, the book tries to explain what was going on. It mentions the left wing intellectuals that were involved in that period and the book tries to address the problems they share from the point of view of the history of art.

  • They generally do not cover visual art
  • Majority of the secondary sources rely on the later autobiographical writings of the protagonists. Some were written during the cold war.

The main sources in the book for the ideas and images are from the New Masses magazine. It was a leading left wing journal during that period and was in circulation reaching about 25000 people in 1934. It is not clear about the exact link to the Communist Party with the magazine but it seemed to carry official views of the Party. It is such an eye opening read; trying to show the driving force leading to the revolution of art.

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