February 21, 1936, Page 5
"We go to work. We go to live. And because we go to work and to live–if necessary–we go to fight." Thus Lewis Mumford sounded the keynote of the first American Artists' Congress held at Town Hall Friday evening. For the defense of culture, the struggle against war and exploitation: for freedom in the expression in their medium, against fascism, the artists of America have rallied to the call for unity among their ranks.
American artists have decided. In the face of economic insecurity and recurring repression, they recognize that "the cultural crisis is but a reflection of a world economic crisis and not an isolated phenomenon." They realize that adequate protection of their interests can he secured only "through collective action and active alliance with all groups engaged in the common struggle against war and fascism."
They were a colorful and striking group–the men and women assembled on the prim stage of Town Hall. From the Mexico of marching masses, the temperate seclusion at uptown studios, and the great stirring hinterland, they came. Expressionists, impressionists, Neo-classicists. great and small, all have buried their differences in one historic effort for unity.
Stuart Davis, stocky, masterful secretary of the Congress; Rockwell Kent, square-built and very earnest: Joe Jones, young, alert, and self-conscious; Aaron Douglas, charming Negro painter, read papers on the purpose of the Congress, and the state of contemporary art.
Unexpectedly, Orozco,. titan of Mexican art, entered. With one movement, the audience arose. shouting and applauding. This intense, dark, little man, whose entire creative life is devoted to the liberation of the masses has risked his life countless times for the preservation of his work from fascist attack. :Margaret Bourke-White, soft-voiced and vibrant, spoke enthusiastically on "The Position of the Artist in the USSR."
Talks by Paul Manship. George Riddle, and Peter Blume followed. Sequieros, outstanding Mexican mural painter, expressed the solidarity of his compatriots with American artists. Art Young, veteran cartoonist, addressed the meeting briefly. Finally, Heywood Broun, tremendous, sloppy. and brilliantly witty as usual, called for organization of artists along trade union lines. "Then," he declared, "art will go ahead buckety, buckety, hoppity, hoppity borne forward on the emotions of millions."
In this spirit of unity, sincerity, and enthusiasm, the League of American Artists was horn. The creation of the League, dedicated to the solution of cultural problems and to the defense of freedom, marks the opening of a new and vital epoch in American art.