Back of the Yards

Media - 1971.447.80 - SAAM-1971.447.80_1 - 61124
Copied Mitchell Siporin, Back of the Yards, ca. 1937, pencil on paper, sheet: 20 5823 34 in. (52.460.3 cm) irregular, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Transfer from General Services Administration, 1971.447.80

Artwork Details

Back of the Yards
ca. 1937
Not on view
sheet: 20 5823 34 in. (52.460.3 cm) irregular
Credit Line
Transfer from General Services Administration
Mediums Description
pencil on paper
  • Polish
  • New Deal — Works Progress Administration, Federal Art Project — Illinois
  • Architecture Exterior — industry — storage tank
  • Figure group
Object Number

Artwork Description

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