The Old Print Shop

William Gropper


William Gropper was an American social realist who created lithographs, paintings, illustrations and murals. His first formal art studies came through Robert Henri and George Bellows at the Ferrer School in New York City. He later went on to study at the National Academy of Design and the New York School of Fine and Applied Arts.

Gropper was deeply influenced by the struggles of his parents, who were Jewish immigrants working in the sweat shops of New York City. His empathy and support for the working man only grew over the years and can be seen in his artwork throughout his career. The first exhibition of his work was held in 1937 and was greeted with a raving review in New Yorker magazine, which called him, “one of the most accomplished, as well as one of the most significant artists of our generation.” The reputation was short-lived. His tendency to attack the rich and powerful in his artwork drew suspicion during the Red Scare, and inevitably lead to him being branded a communist. Gropper quickly fell into obscurity, but he continued to create "satirical images about war, prejudice, greed, and exploitation into his late seventies."

(Steinberg, intro. to Sorini, William Gropper Etchings, 1998)