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17 of 19

John Sloan

(American, 1871–1951)

Heroes of Peace

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Object Details

Artist

John Sloan

Date

1932

Medium

Ink and crayon on paper

Dimensions

Sheet: 12 1/2 × 9 1/4 inches (31.8 × 23.5 cm)
Frame: 16 × 12 3/4 inches (40.6 × 32.4 cm)

Credit Line

Acquired though the Beth Treadway, Class of 1970, and Stephen Treadway, Class of 1969, Fund

Object
Number

2016.057

Sloan contributed for many years to The Masses, a graphically innovative magazine of socialist polit(…)

Sloan contributed for many years to The Masses, a graphically innovative magazine of socialist politics published monthly in the United States from 1911 until 1917, when federal prosecutors brought charges against its editors for conspiring to obstruct conscription. It was succeeded by The Liberator and later The New Masses, called “the principal organ of the American cultural left from 1926 onwards.” It published reportage, fiction, poetry, and art by the leading radicals of the time such as Max Eastman, John Reed, Dorothy Day, and Floyd Dell. Sloan used his art to criticize the war and express his outrage toward what he considered it to be—a capitalist tool for expanding control of markets. The Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918 gave the US government the power to silence any criticism of the war. Many artists, including George Bellows, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Alfred Stieglitz, were targeted as potentially dangerous by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Investigation (later to become the FBI) and the military’s Intelligence Bureau, which kept surveillance files on them. It is fitting to end the show with this drawing, which Sloan contributed to The New Masses. The sardonic title questions the way returning veterans were treated by the general populace who only wanted to go about their daily business, unhindered by visions of a war that had ended over a decade ago. Reduced to selling pencils with his little dog, the hopelessness of his situation is accentuated by the forest of smartly moving women’s legs, impersonal and unseeing. (“‘The War to End All Wars’: Artists and World War I,” curated by Nancy E. Green and presented at the Johnson Museum, January 21-June 11, 2017)

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