The Fifth Year

  • John R. Grabach, The Fifth Year, 1934, oil on wood, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the artist, 1979.119.1

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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.

The Fifth Year
42 1/4 x 48 in. (107.4 x 121.9 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of the artist

Mediums Description
oil on wood
  • State of being – mood – weariness
  • Cityscape – New York – New York
  • Figure group
  • History – United States – Depression Era
  • Architecture Exterior – commercial – skyscraper
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

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