American Justice

I was not greatly impressed by the Royal Academy’s exhibition America After the Fall: Paintings in the 1930s; as Chicken said, you could see what the Abstract Expressionists were reacting against. The exhibition did have some strong paintings, including American Gothic, which could be described as America’s Mona Lisa. But the one painting that hit me hardest was American Justice painted by Joe Jones in 1933.

American Justice

I don’t think it a great painting, bit it tells a strong story, one as relevant in the US today as then.

The half-naked woman at the front of the painting is huge and clearly inspired by Gaugain. She is beautiful and erotic, with the power of nature. Behind her the Klu Klux Klan with their prominent crosses prepare to lynch her; the noose is prominent at the centre of the painting. A dog guards her, and behind her house is already burning. That is American justice.

 

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