This is particularly evident in Jones’s antilynching painting American Justice (1933) and in his Roustabouts (1934), a proletarian painting

[1] Because of his Missouri upbringing and his large body of work depicting farmers and rural landscapes, scholars often consider Jones a Regionalist artist devoted to promoting American ideals through localized subject matter, in the vein of populist artists such as Thomas Hart Benton. ", Steve McQueen. William Van Alen. It is a scene composed of abstract shapes and voids—a scene more evocative than descriptive. And you see the change in his paintings: in New York, they’re much more sophisticated in color and glazing. Charles Sheeler. The exhibition’s interest comes not just in subject matter but its treatment, in the artists’ wide range of visual metaphors. It goes off into tangents. with the philosophy that inspired its creation.”10 To this journalist the landscape was evocative of those negatively affected by capitalist conditions. ", ★★★★ "Escaping the mundane to a world of fantasy", ★★★★ "From Egyptian gods to Apollo 11, an ode to the celestial body of the moment", ★★★★ "The show seeks to capture the mood of liberation from Quant’s heyday. In his Eternal City fascists and capitalists welcome a monster Mussolini in the form of a giant green jack-in-the-box popping up from wartime trenches. This isn't a metaphor or an allegory. The picture’s ambiguity — abstract/figurative and friendly/threatening — is very knowing. St. Louis, MO 63119 M. Melissa Wolfe: You could say it’s the “art of social concern.” You know, starting with the Ashcan School, in New York at the turn of the century, it’s “paint what you know,” and that call for the everyday world, the working-class world, to be a legitimate subject for art, gets continued. He took a very combative position, and it seemed to fit him. Often we think of Regionalism and American Scene painters as these artists working away, isolated, but when you really look at them closely, you realize they’re drawing just as much on a Modernist tradition.

Viewing art production as experimentation in the “composition of forms and color in rhythm,” Jones, like his contemporary Stuart Davis, considered modernist abstraction a tool for social engagement in a world gone awry under a capitalist economic system.6 Abstraction, he believed, was a stimulating force that could activate class consciousness, especially, as in works like Landscape, through an active viewing experience. SLM: Jones seems like that rare bird, the true worker-artist.

", ★★★★★ "Wonderful collection deserves all the sensationalism", ★★★★★ " Young, anxious and Muslim in austerity-riven Britain", ★★★★ "In this wonderful, revelatory show, we get to see the best of Gauguin", ★★★★★ "The magnificent emergence of a new political era", Collection of The John and Mabie Ringling Museum of Art, the State Art Museum of Florida, ★★★ "How expectant mothers showed their pride — from Tudors to Beyoncé", ★★★★★ "I wasn’t in this stupendous exhibition for long before I audibly gasped. And it was fine during the ’30s because there was a network across the nation. And he really struggles with that.


Joe Jones, St. Louis Riverfront, c.1932; oil on board, 23 by 48 in., collection of Renée and Lloyd Greif. Oil on canvas, 40 x 32 1/8".

By the early 1930s, Jones, born and reared in St. Louis, was as far left as you could be in that place and time: a capital “C” Communist. : Pomegranate, 1995), 50, and Dora Appel, Imagery of Lynching: Black Men, White Women, and the Mob (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2004), 143–44. And that’s why he was so exemplary: He was the worker artist. This oppositional language is most literally depicted in the two sets of trees on the left and right sides of the canvas: one set strong and thick, the other thin and weak; one set light, and one dark. An important minor one? Within this conceit, Jones capitalized on visual elements that manifest dialectical tensions, all of which were evocative at the time of underlying political conflicts and class struggle. That the sturdier, thicker trees are the darker ones is particularly suggestive; Jones would later employ this vocabulary of organic expression in his more explicitly political antilynching and proletarian paintings to subtly highlight racial injustice in formal ways.9.

Register with your social account or click here to log in. WU 4452. The attenuated branches, for example, hark back to a long tradition in which trees symbolize human loneliness.

He has the energy and dash that you see in some of Benton’s best work, but he’s so much more political than Benton was.

There was a reason to go back to what you know. 1931. But the drawings are the thing", David Hockney/Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt, ★★★★ "The three Armada portraits of Elizabeth I make a remarkable threesome: almost the same, but not quite — a difference in the glance here, an older globe there, the third unhappily truncated", ★★★★ "Crucial to its profundity is its evocation of vulnerability and fragility. Everyone should see this. Yes, there is dick, but don’t let that distract you. Classic Landscape. If you’re going to talk about Social Realism or do an exhibition on Social Realism, you’ll now have to include Joe Jones.

1937. See Forshey, “From House Painting.” His earlier posturing, before he officially announced his communist sympathies, is also raised, but not discussed in relation to his early work, in Hemingway, Artists on the Left, 35–36.

Rather, working within an established genre that has its own symbolic logic, Jones employed a distinctly sensuous language to disarm his viewers. Rather than abstraction, it’s about American society in a particular period in history as seen by artists. His contemporaries’ understanding of his rural work also complicates categorizing him as a Regionalist.

America After the Fall, in the Royal Academy’s Sackler Galleries, explores a different side of American modernism to the RA’s recent blockbuster, Abstract Expressionism. MMW: That is essentially the beginning of him trying to give voice to his burgeoning activism, and it also has something that I think shows up in his most interesting works, which is a really wonderful visual rhythm. On the left, more virile trunks thrust upward from the billowing shapes of dull bluish-green earth. Master Hands. And he doesn’t have a fight anymore…. It will be read by art historians all over. I’ve lived with that painting for a long time and you know, we have it up; I’m committed to that painting as a curator. . ", ★★★★ "There’s lots in this show: his juvenile Rake’s Progress series of etchings from the Sixties, his funny abstract print of a man looking for his spectacles, his late iPad drawings, where you can see the picture emerge, the watercolour of him staring at the viewer.