Automobile industry
Automobile Industry
by William Gropper
These workers look like parts of a well-oiled machine as each man lends his strength to the task of building an automobile, the chief source of wages for the people of Detroit. William Gropper structured the composition so that the angles of the men's muscular bodies echo the steel beams overhead. He didn't paint the figures from life and instead used photographs of Life magazine together with his own imagination. The artist took pride in his commissions for the Works Progress Administration and believed that, like the workers shown in this mural, he was a valuable member of a working class intent on rebuilding the nation after the Depression. He wrote to officials at the Treasury Department thanking them for "a great pleasure and stimulant" and vowing that "we will continue to do our part in building a great American Art and Culture" (Gropper to Edward Rowan, June 5, 1941, SAAM curatorial file). Around 1971, the post office was scheduled to be demolished and Wayne State University in Detroit rescued the paintings, bringing a conservator to carefully remove them from the permanent white lead adhesive. They removed plaster from the back and old varnish from the front and placed the murals side by side on view in the university's Student Center lounge, where you can still see them today. First installed in the Northwestern Branch Post Office in Detroit, Michigan, in 1941, until 1971.
Location 5221 Gullen Mall, Detroit Michigan, MI
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