(b New York, 26 Oct. 1901; d Bridgewater, Conn., 11 Mar. 1973).
American painter. He was educated in England, at Eton and Cambridge (his mother came from a cultured British family), and much of his early life was spent travelling and studying in Europe. His early works were mainly of biblical and imaginative subjects, but after settling in New York in 1931 he became a leading figure among the Social Realists who used their art as an instrument of protest and propaganda during the Depression years. He was active in several organizations concerned with the civil rights of artists, and under the banner of the Federal Art Project he produced militant paintings of social criticism, his best-known work in this genre being American Tragedy (1937, Whitney Mus., New York), which commemorates a police attack on striking steelworkers in Chicago. Even his allegorical religious painting The New Lazarus (1954, Whitney Mus.) has sociological overtones, with its figures of starving children. His style varied, but his inclination for the bizarre and grotesque sometimes brings his work close to Surrealism, as is seen in what is perhaps his most famous painting, Lily and the Sparrows (1939, Whitney Mus.).