Relief Blues

  • O. Louis Guglielmi, Relief Blues, ca. 1938, tempera on fiberboard, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Transfer from General Services Administration, 1971.447.34

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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.

Title
Relief Blues
Artist
Date
ca. 1938
On View
Not on view.
Dimensions
24 x 30 in. (61.1 x 76.2 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Transfer from General Services Administration

Mediums
Mediums Description
tempera on fiberboard
Classifications
Keywords
  • Figure group
  • History – United States – Depression Era
  • State of being – mood – desolation
  • Recreation – leisure – letter reading and writing
  • Object – furniture – stove
  • Architecture Interior – domestic – kitchen
  • New Deal – Works Progress Administration, Federal Art Project – New York City
Object Number
1971.447.34
Palette
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

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