Isaac Soyer's Employment Office

Isaac Soyer's Employment Office
Isaac Soyer's Employment Office

This work is an oil canvas painted by the American artist Isaac Soyer in the year 1937 and which is currently exhibited as part of the prestigious collection of theWhitney Museum of American Art in New York.

Possibly this painting is the great masterpiece of Soyer (1902 – 1981), and surely it is also one of the greatest representative works of the social realism movement that flooded part of the painting of the United States during the second quarter of the last 20th century.


Isaac Soyer Employment Agency

This movement undoubtedly has a very clear trigger, and that is none other than the enormous crisis caused by the stock market crash of 1929, which gave rise to the Depression of 29.

That depression also reached the artistic world, and creators like Isaac Soyer or Ben Shan manifested it with this type of works in which there is a clear desire to denounce the sad moment through which the vast majority of the American population passed.

These are works that focus on this impoverished society, and mainly on the sectors and people most affected by this crisis. And they do it both from a general point of view, and paying attention to prototypes that serve to capture the overall situation.

For example, if you look at the faces on this canvas, you can see that they are the faces ofpeople who have lost hope, and even self-confidence and self-esteem. They are all gestures of abandonment and apathy, which have already passed from the phase of despair to that of total hopelessness.

And there are also very interesting details, such as verifying that that crisis affected all strata of society, without making excessive differences. Here, for example, we see a representation of the middle classes that reluctantly go to the employment agency. There are four characters, and the two central figures are a black woman together with a young white man who appears to be well prepared as he wears a suit and tie. That is to say, the misfortune of the lack of work that reached all social strata, without distinction between gender, race or condition.

In addition to the theme, it is also very interesting to check what were the aesthetic references of the painters involved in this American social realism movement, since as they themselves confirmed they were influenced by artists of Russian realist painting or by the concerns posed by left-wing painters, such as the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera.

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