William Gropper Biography

William Gropper




William Victor Gropper (1897-1977), painter, printmaker, muralist, cartoonist and illustrator, was born in New York City on December 3, 1897. He studied at the Ferrer School of Modern Art where he was a student of George Bellows and Robert Henri, the National Academy of Design, and the New York School of Fine and Applied Art.


He joined the staff of the New York Tribune in 1917 and shortly after became involved in the Communist movement. He created cartoons and illustrations for numerous political magazines and newspapers including The Liberator, The Masses, Revolutionary Age, Rebel Worker, The Dial, The Bookman, Vanity Fair, and the New York Evening Post.


His background shaped his politics: his father, Harry Gropper, was a university educated Jewish immigrant who was forced into manual labor to support his family. Gropper’s aunt was killed in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire when locked doors blocked the workers escape route.


Gropper’s murals, painting and illustrations focused on the common man, the human condition and political injustices. He painted a number of murals under the Works Progress Administration mural project. One mural, The Construction of a Dam, is in the Department of the Interior building in Washington, D.C. and another mural relating to the U.S. automobile industry, originally painted for a Detroit post office, is in the Student Center lounge at Wayne State University.


He was granted a Guggenheim fellowship in 1937, a Ford Foundation artist-in-residence award in 1966, and the Tamarind Lithographic fellowship in 1967. His works are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, National Gallery of Art and the City Art Museum of St. Louis


William Gropper died in Manhasset, New York on January 6, 1977.