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The Left Front

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Last weekend I was in New York for the Jason Isbell show (which I did not think was all that good. As much as I like his songs, playing 8 straight quiet acoustic songs in a big theater does not make for a particularly great live experience. Although anytime I can hear “Codeine” live, I can’t complain too much). Anyway, the other thing I did while I was there was visit the excellent new exhibit at the Grey Art Gallery at NYU titled “The Left Front: Radical Art in the Red Decade, 1929-1940.” This exhibit, I think originally put together by a museum in Chicago, is an outstanding collection of American communist art from the Depression. I was struck by how much more interesting this art was when it was organically responding to conditions in the United States than the Popular Front of the late 30s when everyone had to work to support the Spanish fighting Franco. Probably my favorite piece was a painting of a couple of Stalinists throwing some serious shade at a follower of Jay Lovestone walking past them after Lovestone was expelled from the party. Really, we need more art detailing obscure left sectarian splits. You can view some of the works (alas not the Lovestoneite one) at the link above. If you are in New York or happen to be wandering through, it’s a worthy $3 to see the exhibit.

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