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Social Unionism in Action

The Union Meets the Met: Photograph of Local 91 members in an ILGWU art workshow, circa mid 1940s.

Magazine of Art, 1946.

During the 1930s and 1940s the education department of the ILGWU, inspired by Fania Cohn and later by Mark Starr, conducted hundreds of classes for workers. This rare image showing students actually drawing, rather than posing in front of the building, evokes the spirit of intense creative effort that characterized those classes.

The story of these initiatives, and the complex canvas of personalities and institutions in the museum and in the unions, is told in the 1946 article by Abell, and examined more recently by art historian Frances K. Pohl “Art, Education and Labor.” Kunst und Politik, 2005.