December 1, 2012

Rockwell Kent...William Gropper...Philip Evergood...Reginald Marsh...Grace Hartigan Stuart Davis...Raphael and Moses Soyer...Louise Nevelson...Faith Ringgold...and on and on...the list of giants of American art whose careers were established or advanced by ACA Galleries would cover several pages. They are artists who have had something to say; a social conscience to express; a radical concept of art to advocate. On August 16, 1932, artists with a social passion and modern spirit found a champion with the opening of ACA Gallery. It was a difficult and dangerous time in American history. The Great Depression had destroyed the economic security of millions of people, taking bread from their table and hope from their lives. Political activism rose up to challenge the greed that had caused the catastrophe, but these advocates for a more equitable society were met with ferocious opposition from entrenched moneyed interests and reactionary social forces across the country. Political or professional exclusion, even violence were often the means to silence a progressive idea. It was in this tense environment that Herman Baron, with co- founding artists Stuart Davis, Adolf Dehn and Yasuo Kuniyoshi, opened a gallery of American Contemporary Art: The ACA Gallery at 1269 Madison Avenue at the corner of East Ninety-First Street. Right from the start, Baron’s ACA Gallery presented a distinctive vision, exhibiting artists whose work exposed the reality of American life and who did so using an American visual language. Though the Modernist abstractions advanced in Europe were respected by America’s socially conscious artists, and abstraction was even part of the vocabulary of such American masters as Stuart Davis, for many of ACA’s artists the lives and struggles of everyday Americans in the cities and on the farms were too real to be expressed by obscure means. These artists saw themselves as the inheritors of the pre-World War One “Ashcan School,” the New York Realists led by J