Heckscher Museum of Art

Huntington, Long Island, NY

(516) 351-3250


Visions of A Changing America: Depression Era Prints from the Collection of Herschel and Fern Cohen

February 7 - April 19, 1998


Hugo Gellert, Primary Accumulation #3, lithograph, 1933

The years of the Great Depression saw an outpouring of work by graphic artists, much of it depicting the crushing economic hardships which gripped the nation following the stock market crash of 1929. The more than 100 prints which go on exhibit at the Heckscher Museum of Art on Saturday, February 7 by well-known artists such as Rockwell Kent and many others offer eloquent and moving testimony to an America undergoing wrenching social change. From bread lines, to strike breakers, to protest scenes, to workers in mills and construction sites, the works included in Visions of a Changing America: Depression Era Prints from the Collection of Herschel and Fern Cohen , provide insights into the social complexities of an extraordinary period of American history. The exhibition is organized by Anne Cohen DePietro, curator of the Heckscher.

Drawn entirely from the private collection of Herschel and Fern Cohen, Long Islanders who have assembled one of the nation's most significant collections of graphic art from this period, Visions of a Changing America includes woodcuts, linocuts, wood engravings, lithographs and etching by notable printmakers. The works have been organized into several categories: Social and Political Commentary, Contemporary Life, Urban Landscape, Industrial, and Labor Subjects. The Social and Political Commentary section includes poignant images of street beggars and migrant farm workers. Contemporary Life encompasses more light-hearted scenes, among them sailors cavorting on leave and children at play. The Industrial section, one of the most visually exciting of the exhibition, includes images which glorify the machine age and the burgeoning steel industry.


Samuel Margolies, Man's Canyons, etching and aquatint, c. 1928


Within the Urban Landscape component are images of city skyscrapers and Louis Lozowick's spectacular Brooklyn Bridge. Finally, the powerful works included in the Labor Subjects section -- coal miners, strike breakers and sweatshop workers - attest to the struggle of the common man during this era. Visions of a Changing America: Depression Era Prints from the Collection of Herschel and Fem Cohen will be accompanied by an extensively illustrated catalogue which includes an introduction by Anne Cohen DePietro, a statement by the collectors, and an historical essay by Mary Ryan, a New York City gallery owner who specializes in American prints from the 1920s to the present.

Search for more articles and essays on American art in Resource Library. See America's Distinguished Artists for biographical information on historic artists.

This page was originally published in 1997 in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information.

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