Julius Bloch, Young American
As one of the first artists employed by the federally sponsored Public Works of Art Project during the Great Depression, Julius Bloch focused on the plight of unemployed men. A bust portrait of a man, Young American represents the restlessness and agitation of able-bodied, out-of-work men in the United States. Bloch used a jobless, young factory worker as his model. Presented in three-quarter view, the disheartened youth with hooded eyes, a creased cap, and a somber expression evokes the dire straits of the everyman. Bloch’s concern for the unemployed was magnified in his artistic practice: he was known for hiring jobless individuals as models for his work.
Bloch’s painting of the subject (whereabouts unknown) attracted the admiration of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who saw it exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and selected it for the permanent collection at the White House. In response to nationwide attention, Bloch reproduced the painting as a lithograph for wider circulation.