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The Real Life of Social Realism

The communist Charles White created images of dignity to portray America’s working class. Now, forty years after his death, his art is back in the mainstream.

Charles White. Love Letter III. (1977). Color lithograph. 30 1/16 x 22 5/8" (76.3 x 57.4 cm). The Art Institute of Chicago. Margaret Fisher Fund. © The Charles White Archives / © The Art Institute of Chicago.

To say that Charles White (1918–1979) is “finally having his moment” probably doesn’t do justice to his stature while alive. White never lacked fans: According to Andrew Hemingway’s authoritative Artists on the Left, he was “the most important Communist artist of the 1950s”; in the late ‘60s, the Washington Post named him as the foremost […]

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