Relief Blues by O. Louis Guglielmi / American Art
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Relief Blues

ca. 1938 O. Louis Guglielmi Born: Cairo, Egypt 1906 Died: Amagansett, New York 1956 tempera on fiberboard 24 x 30 in. (61.1 x 76.2 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Transfer from The Museum of Modern Art 1971.447.34 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 4th Floor, 37A

Luce Center Label

This painting shows a family on home relief during the Depression. O. Louis Guglielmi applied for relief during the early 1930s, before he managed to secure a meager wage through the Works Progress Administration. The unemployment that blossomed after the crash of 1929 was demoralizing for many Americans, and here, Guglielmi emphasized the figures’ despondent, haunted expressions. A relief worker on the right fills out forms to apply for welfare, while the man of the house can only watch helplessly. He probably had little choice but to ask the government for help, and the painting hints at an even sadder future should his application be refused.


Architecture Interior - domestic - kitchen

Figure group

History - United States - Depression Era

Object - furniture - stove

Recreation - leisure - letter reading and writing

State of being - mood - desolation

New Deal - Works Progress Administration, Federal Art Project - New York City


paint - tempera


About O. Louis Guglielmi

Born: Cairo, Egypt 1906 Died: Amagansett, New York 1956

More works in the collection by
O. Louis Guglielmi

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