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Back of the Yards

ca. 1937 Mitchell Siporin Born: New York, New York 1910 Died: Boston, Massachusetts 1976 pencil on paper sheet: 20 5/8 x 23 3/4 in. (52.4 x 60.3 cm) irregular Smithsonian American Art Museum Transfer from General Services Administration 1971.447.80 Not currently on view

Exhibition Label

The yards in this title refer to the Union Stock Yards near a residential neighborhood in Chicago. Siporin’s father was a union organizer, and the artist was especially sensitive to the plight of the homeless and dispossessed during the Great Depression. The mother, father, and child form a compositional unit in the center, while the man in a trench coat is a menacing figure. In the painting based on this drawing, the artist eliminated the man in the coat, focusing the viewer’s attention on the family.

Graphic Masters II: Highlights from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2009


Architecture Exterior - domestic - house

Architecture Exterior - industry - storage tank

Ethnic - Polish

Figure group

New Deal - Works Progress Administration, Federal Art Project - Illinois