Philip Evergood (1901–1973)
Passing Show, 1951
In the early years of the Great Depression, Philip Evergood associated with members of the so-called Fourteenth Street school of artists and others who championed the lower classes through images that were often unsettling. These artists favored a highly graphic style of painting that reflects both their training as artist-reporters and their use of popular media images as sources. Evergood’s Passing Show juxtaposes a down-and-out African American man, seated on a street curb, with a crowd of fashionably dressed women passing in and out of a five-and-dime, a kind of inexpensive variety store once a fixture in urban America. The shop windows offer a disparate assortment of tools, kitchenware, and wigged mannequin busts that mimic the shoppers’ garish makeup. Evergood used brittle lines and jarring colors to evoke the superficial allure of the “passing show” while emphasizing the man’s exclusion from it. The painting reveals a humorous, ironic understanding of the delusions of modern consumer society.