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Dispossessed

ca. 1938 Mervin Jules Born: Baltimore, Maryland 1912 Died: Provincetown, Massachusetts 1994 tempera on cotton mounted on fiberboard 17 7/8 x 23 1/8 in. (45.4 x 58.7 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Charles G. Jules 1981.80.1 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 4th Floor, 34B


Luce Center Label

Mervin Jules’s scenes of the urban homeless showed the desperation of people ruined by the Great Depression. Here, an elderly couple have lost their home and sit in despair among their possessions, out of work, old, and vulnerable. Their long faces and defeated poses express the depth of misery. A tray on the ground reflects a group of workers waiting in line, emphasizing the desperation of the times. Jules was committed to the social purpose of art, and although he confronted difficult issues, a curator described him in 1941 as having “an optimism, tempered with courage to face facts as they are . . . At the core of his optimism is respect for just people and their occupations.” (Harris, Mervin Jules: Exhibition of Paintings, 1941)

Keywords

Architecture Exterior - domestic - apartment

Cityscape - street

Figure group

Figure group - elderly

Object - furniture - bed

Object - furniture - chair

Object - furniture - chest

State of being - other - homeless

painting

authorities - attributes - objects - medium - paint - tempera

fabric - cotton

fiberboard - support added

About Mervin Jules

Born: Baltimore, Maryland 1912 Died: Provincetown, Massachusetts 1994

More works in the collection by
Mervin Jules

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