OPTICC – 5th Six Weeks

Frozen Assets, 1931 by Diego Rivera

Diego Rivera, 20th century artist and husband to Frida Kahlo, painted the piece “Frozen Assets” in 1931. Rivera’s piece is a depiction of the economic instability of New York City in the 1930s, and shows viewers the effects of the Great Depression in the northeastern United States.

Overview: “Frozen Assets” gives a view of New York City life for different people The dark and dull colors used in the painting give an impression that the city is in a depressed state.

Parts: The piece is split into three parts, the upper being a view of the Manhattan skyline. In the center is a man looking over rows of bodies, and below that a group of people at work while the guard locks the building up. Parts of the city is under construction, and the point of view is from the not-so-luxurious outskirts. Those who are sleeping in the shed are sleeping on concrete and being watched by a guard, packed in tight and without much comfort. In the bank offices, the people in the waiting area appear much more wealthy than those who sleep in the portion of the painting above them, showing a clear divide between lifestyles in the era.

Title: While the title of the piece “Frozen Assets” is a literal description for the bank’s waiting room in the lower section, it is also a metaphor for the economic state of the city as depicted in the painting during the Great Depression.

Interpretation: The piece is trying to show how people in NYC were affected by such nationwide economic downfall. Rows of the homeless sleep in a shelter, the city has lost its luxurious glow, and the wealthy keep close eyes on their money. The divide between upper and lower class has been widened even more by the 1929 stock market crash.

Context: The Great Depression, lasting from 1929-1939, began during the stock market crash of ’29, and from then on millions struggled as they lost their jobs and finances, unable to feed their families. Thousands of banks closed across the country, and the unemployment rate was around 20%. Breadlines, soup kitchens, and a high volume of homeless people became the norm for many industrial U.S. cities. The Social Security Act of 1935 helped bring families out of poverty, and the call for the production of weapons for WWII in 1941 brought jobs back to industrial regions, gradually lowering the unemployment rate.

Conclusion: Rivera’s painting of a depressed New York City depicts just how poor the economic state even in powerful cities like New York City was between World Wars I and II. In class, as we learn about these wars and their political, cultural, and economic effects, we also look at how nations remained intact in-between these periods. For the U.S., as warfare production was a major economic boost, the time in-between these wars was a rude awakening for the country and its millions of workers.

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5 thoughts on “OPTICC – 5th Six Weeks

  1. Analysis and Voice- You have a rich voice in this piece, you use relevant but extravagant language to get the point of the piece across. Your context statement was very informative and I can tell that you went out of your way to find statistics regarding your time period. I like how your tied your explanation back into what we are learning in class and it’s relevance. I would say that you could go a little more in depth with your explanations with more of your own opinions and inferences.

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  2. Choice of Art- Super interesting context to your art piece, I can tell that you took extra time to find something significant that you could also analyze into a deeper meaning. I think you made it more difficult for yourself with this final piece since it has three separate parts to analyze. I can see that you challenged yourself as you became more experienced and you can tell you are practiced in your OPTICC writing.

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  3. Element 1
    I like how you decided to write about the depression,and how it effected everyone; not just the poor people or simply the New Yorkers. The depression lowered everyone’s morals around the world, some had it worse than others. However the people of the United State’s were motivated to searched for a way out of this economic depression; therefore continued to keep economy afloat by continuing to manufacture and sell weapons to all sides.

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  4. Element 2
    I enjoyed your selection of art work because it shows immediately the gloom mood, which relates with the environmental effects which connects to high death rate in addition to the high unemployment rate. This photo showed how there wasn’t one solo effect of the depression, that smaller trivial details quickly added up. This piece also represents how industry in this era had previous sky rocketed before the great war, and how after the great war and the resulting depression it seemed that even the industrialized nations weren’t safe.

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