A VERY SPECIAL TRIP. Once upon a time, in the early 1960s, when I was a brand new immigrant, I lucked out—big time. I got a job at the New York Times working on the picture desk of the Sunday Book Review—where, in those distant days, we used paintings to illustrate the fiction reviews. Which meant that every other Friday afternoon I got to go to the art galleries to raid their files for items we thought might come in handy one day. (We had cabinets full of them—and paid the galleries the princely sum of $10 if we ran one.) And so it was that I became familiar with the realists of the period, along with the WPA artists and others from the earlier eras—though out of style by that time, and sneered at by the Editor! And as I walked into Vida Americana there they were—the famous Mexicans I remembered and the Americans they’d influenced, Jacob Lawrence and Charles White, Thomas Hart Benton and Ben Shahn, even unexpected people like Jackson Pollock—all on this brilliantly colorful memory lane. And so, to cheer yourselves up in these doleful days, may I recommend you “Run Don’t Walk” to the wonderful Whitney to enjoy this truly exhilarating experience.
Paintings FROM VIDA AMERICANA by Diego Rivera, Ben Shahn and CHARLES WHITE. All photos by Maggie Berkvist.