John GutmannU.S., b. Germany 1905-1998
"Yes, Columbus Did Discover America" 83.0021
The American automobile, a symbol of America's mobile nature and emblem of a society with fluid class structure, repeatedly drew painter John Gutmann's attention. His series, Automobiles in the U.S., from which this photograph is taken, uses the automobile as metaphor for America. When he saw people traveling to unemployment lines in cars, he no longer took seriously the mutterings about revolution or the national cries of despair. The American automobile was and continues to be used as a billboard for our political and social views. When Gutmann fled to America from Nazi Germany in 1933, he switched from painting to photography, disseminating images first to a German public through the Presse-Photo agency in Berlin and later to American and European magazines. He had a supreme interest in America as it appeared to him in the 1930s-the breadlines, the diversity, the ethnicity, the parades, the multitudes of American products, the expressions of freedom.
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