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1934 Arthur Durston Born: Farnsborough, England 1889 Died: Los Angeles, California 1938 oil on canvas 50 x 40 in. (127.0 x 101.6 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Transfer from the U.S. Department of Labor 1964.1.92 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 4th Floor, 35A

Luce Center Label

At the worst point of the Great Depression, more than fifteen million American workers were unemployed. Many who continued to work struggled to support themselves and their families. In Industry, Arthur Durston painted three dispirited women in the foreground walking away from the factories, while hunched, shirtless men toil in the background. The rooftops, pipes, towering chimney stacks, and smoke plumes appear to blend together to form one giant machine, of which the distant workers are just parts. The repetition of the women, men, and smokestacks (all are in groups of three) suggest the monotony of daily life. A newborn baby held by the most prominent woman symbolizes a hope for a better future and the ability of Americans to work through the Depression, but also a futility because the child will probably grow up to join the masses laboring in the factories.


Architecture Exterior - domestic - house

Architecture Exterior - industry - factory


Figure group - female and child

Occupation - industry

New Deal - Public Works of Art Project - California


paint - oil

fabric - canvas