Art & Social Issues in American Culture
Home Economics War Race & Ethnicity Resources Contact Us

Art and Social Issues Timeline

1930s   Great Depression

            Rise of fascism in Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan

1931    Scottsboro Nine trial

1932    Franklin D. Roosevelt elected president

1933    Hitler’s rise to power, the Nazi party gains more control

1935    Dust Bowl, the Great Drought

            Social Security Act

            Spanish Civil War begins

Works Progress Administration

1939    World War II begins with Germany’s invasion of Poland

            United States comes out of the Great Depression

1942    The National Art Council for Defense and Artists Societies for Defense merge to form Artists for Victory

1943    Artists for Victory organizes the national print exhibition, America in the War

1947    The Secretary of State George C. Marshall cancels the exhibit, Advancing American Art, claiming that the contemporary art is “communistic”

            Marshall announces there will be “no more taxpayers’ money for modern art”


1874    First impressionist exhibit held

1875    Art Students League founded in New York City

1972    Photographer Nick Ut records US use of Napalm against Vietnamese citizens, his photograph later wins a Pulitzer Prize

1978    Cindy Sherman’s black and white Untitled Film Stills series

1960s   Rise of Pop art

1965    National Endowment for Arts and Humanities established

            Minimalism recognized

1910s   Picasso and Braque develop Cubism in Paris

            Ashcan influence spreads, introduction of realism (early 1910s)

1911        First publication of The Masses

1913    New York Armory Show

1916    Dada movement begins in Switzerland, soon spreads to New York and Europe

1917    The Masses goes out of print

1870    15th amendment ratified, ensures the right to vote regardless of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude”

1875    Civil Rights Act passed, no citizen can be denied equal use of public facilities

1877    End of Reconstruction

American History

1860    Abraham Lincoln elected president of the United States

1861    American Civil War begins

1863    Abraham Lincoln delivers Emancipation Proclamation

1865    13th amendment ratified, slavery is outlawed

            End of Civil War

            Abraham Lincoln assassinated

1866    First Klu Klux Klan established in Tennessee

1867    First Reconstruction Act passed

1868    14th amendment ratified, grants citizenship to all people born in the United States

1869    First railroad connecting east and west completed

1880    States begin passing “Jim Crow” laws

1883    Brooklyn Bridge constructed

1885    First US skyscraper

1920    Société Anonyme founded

1924    The Surrealist Manifesto is published

1926    The New Masses is established

1929    John Reed Club founded by CPUSA in New York City

Art History

1890    Sherman Anti-trust Law

1896    Supreme Court rules that “separate but equal” segregation is legal in Plessy v. Ferguson

            Rise of “yellow journalism” (sensationalist news reporting)

1898    Spanish-American War

1901    First Trans Atlantic radio

1903    Wright brothers fly

1904    National Child Labor Committee formed

1906    Upton Sinclair publishes The Jungle, leading to the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act

1908    Henry Ford introduces the Ford Model T

1909    W.E.B DuBois founds the NAACP

1920s   Height of the KKK in the United States (4 million members, 5000 recorded lynchings)

1920    19th amendment passed, women are allowed to vote

1929    US stock market crashes, beginning of the Great Depression

1910    Beginning of
President Theodore Roosevelt’s progressive movement

1912    The Titanic sinks

1914    World War I begins

1917    United States enters World War I

1918    World War I ends

            Influenza epidemic kills 30-40 million people worldwide

1919    18th amendment passed, prohibits the sale or consumption of alcohol

            Treaty of Versailles

            Communist Party formed in Chicago

1891    Robert Henri founds the Ashcan School
1933    First Federal Funding for Theatre and Arts

Public Works of Art Project

1934    The Unemployed Artist Group becomes the Artist’s Union with the publication Art Front

            Reeves Lewenthal founds Associated American Artists

1935    Federal Art Project (FAP) founded

            Works Progress Administration (WPA) art project founded

            The Farm Security Administration (FSA) hires photographers to record American poverty

            Two anti-lynching exhibits open in New York City, one sponsored by the NAACP and the other by the New York City John Reed Club

1936    A group of New York artists founds the American Artists’ Congress

            The Photo League is founded in New York

            Dorothea Lange takes the photograph Migrant Mother, Nipomo Valley

1937    The Nazi party organizes an exhibition of “degenerate art,” composed mainly of avant garde works

            Picasso paints Guernica, memorializing the Spanish town bombed by Germans

1950s   Abstract expressionism and color field painting become dominant art styles

1950    Société Anonyme officially closes

1951    The Photo League closes

1941    Pearl Harbor bombed, US enters World War II

1945    Harry S. Truman becomes president following FDR’s death

            Cold War begins

            United States drops atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

            World War II ends

            United Nations organized

1946    First computer invented in Philadelphia

1948    Berlin divided due to Soviet blockades

            Truman abolishes segregation in the armed forces

1960    John F. Kennedy elected president

1962    Michael Harrington publishes The Other America: Poverty in the United States

1963    John F. Kennedy assassinated

            MLK’s March on Washington

1964    The Civil Rights Bill passed

            Gulf of Tonkin resolution

            Vietnam War begins

            President Lyndon B. Johnson announces War on Poverty

1965    Voting Rights Bill passed

1968    MLK assassinated

            Democratic Convention in Chicago

            US has 543,000 troops in Vietnam

1969    United States astronauts land on moon

1950s   US government aggressively investigates suspected Communists

1950    Korean War begins

1953    Korean War ends

Joseph McCarthy is chair of Senate Sub-Committee on Government Operations

1954    Supreme court rules to desegregate schools in Brown v. Board of Education

            McCarthy hearings

1955    Rosa Parks, Montgomery Bus Boycott

Martin Luther King, Jr. emerges as civil rights leader

1975    Vietnam War ends


"American History Timeline." Encyclopedia Smithsonian.  Smithsonian Institution. 16 Aug. 2006

"The Ashcan School." Artcyclopedia. 16 Aug. 2006

"Ashcan School." Art Movements. Art Industri. 16 Aug. 2006

Campbell, D. "Brief Timeline of American Literature and Events, 1620-1920." 26 Feb.2006. Washington State University. 16 Aug. 2006

Fleming, WilliamArts & Ideas.  9th Edition.  Philadelphia: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1995.

"FSA/OWI B&W Photographs." American Memory. The Library of Congress. 16 Aug. 2006

Grove Dictionary of Art. "American Artists' Congress." ArtNet. 16 Aug. 2006

Landau, Ellen G.  Artists for Victory: An Exhibition Catalog.  Washington DC: Library of Congress, 1983.

Maik, Thomas A.  The Masses Magazine (1911-1917): Odyssey of an EraNew York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1994.

"NAACP Timeline." NAACP. 16 Aug. 2006

Pisano, Ronald G. "A Brief History of the League's Early Years." The Art Students League of New York. 16 Aug. 2006

Pohl, Frances K. In the Eye of the Storm: An Art of Conscience, 1930-1970. New York: Pomegranate Artbooks, 1995.

Tucker, Anne WilkesThis Was the Photo League: Compassion and the Camera from the Depression to the Cold WarChicago: Stephen Daiter Gallery, 2001.

Vallen, Mark. "Artists and the Vietnam War." Art for a Change. 16 Aug. 2006

Wallbank, T. WalterHistory and Life: The World and Its People.  2nd edGlenview, Illinois: Scott, Foresman and Company, 1984.

Zurier, RebeccaArt for the Masses: A Radical Magazine and Its Graphics, 1911-1917Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1988.

Contact Us : Rights and Reproductions : Acknowledgements

Columbus Museum of Art

© 2006
480 East Broad Street, Columbus, OH 43215 614.221.6801