IT is to be regretted that more American painters have not chosen the subject matter of their pictures from the contemporary movement of life especially in New York. In this respect, John Sloan is rather a solitary figure," Albert E. Gallatin wrote in 1925, in a monograph on John Sloan. "The infinitely varied life of New York offers as wide a field of exploration as did the Paris of Gavarni, who in his Physionomie de la Population de Paris gave us . . . a judgment of the entire epoch, the conventions, the fashions and all the types that go to make up the population."
In the relatively short time that has elapsed since 1925 America has come into the possession of a voluminous native subject art. We have an exhaustive summation of our own epoch in terms not only of New York City's teeming life, but of the life of Pittsburgh, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Los Angeles, and the rural regions of the Midwest, the Dust Bowl and the flood and tornado areas, the agricultural far South, Alaska, and the Virgin Islands. This could not have come about without the unprecedented art activities in America from the beginning of the century to 1925. But the scope and the character of the painting itself are to be accounted for to a large extent by extraordinary conditions in the national life.
Fabulous all-time spending records were being piled up in the United States, including public expenditures for art. In the year 1928 alone, for instance, American art investments totaled a billion dollars. This meant, among other things, unheard-of opportunities for American painters, mature, immature, and uneducated.