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The Fifth Year

1934 John R. Grabach Born: Newark, New Jersey 1886 Died: 1981 oil on wood 42 1/4 x 48 in. (107.4 x 121.9 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of the artist 1979.119.1 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 4th Floor, 36A

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The Fifth Year
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Luce Center Label

John R. Grabach painted this image five years after the great stock market crash of 1929. It shows an endless stream of people rising up out of New York and trudging across the sky. The man in front gazes out at the viewer from under his hat, while his partner weeps on his shoulder. Paintings such as this, emphasizing the desolate conditions experienced by many Americans, reflect the rise of Socialist and Communist activism during the 1930s. These figures represent the working masses, their gray faces and threadbare clothes highlighting the hardships of the Depression. Their journey through the sky symbolizes their long trek toward a better future.


Architecture Exterior - commercial - skyscraper

Cityscape - New York New York

Figure group

History - United States - Depression Era

Landscape - weather - snow

State of being - mood - weariness