Back of the Yards

  • Mitchell Siporin, Back of the Yards, 1938, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Transfer from General Services Administration, 1971.447.83

This image of a downtrodden family making their way through a landscape that combines urban and rural elements has the haunting quality of a nightmare. It emphasizes the misery that workers across the country experienced during the Great Depression. Mitchell Siporin was sympathetic to these workers and felt a connection with them as a Jewish man whose family had suffered and been forced to leave their homeland. He once said: I have known depression and war and lived in other countries than my own. Everything I have seen and felt I have [hoped would] … vindicate and reinforce my artistic ideas …” (O’Toole, Mitchell Siporin: The Early Years 19301950, 1990)

Title
Back of the Yards
Artist
Date
1938
Location
Dimensions
24 1836 18 in. (61.391.7 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Transfer from General Services Administration

Mediums
Mediums Description
oil on canvas
Classifications
Keywords
  • New Deal – Works Progress Administration, Federal Art Project – Illinois
  • Architecture Exterior – industry – railroad yard
  • Figure group – family
  • Architecture Exterior – domestic – house
  • Occupation – industry – railroad
Object Number
1971.447.83
Palette
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI