The New York Times has a lovely article about where to find the art that portrays working people. I tend to think (wrongly) that the art of and about working people is from the 1930s, Socialist Realism. But much of the art described here is centuries old. People have always worked, but the great painters tended to paint royalty or mythical scenes or portraiture or still life, but not so much the people building and sowing and making.

One thing that occurs as you view the art of labor is how much of this kind of work–in factories and fields–has disappeared, either because it has been mechanized or outsourced. A factory that once employed 1,000 workers has either been transformed into a sleek production line run by robots and overseen by a handful of people. Or shipped to China or Mexico, where labor is cheaper.

Another thought is that unions arose to combat terrible working conditions and give working people a voice, so they were not treated as disposable by the bosses.

In the 1930s, the owners of capital hated unions. They have always hated unions. They don’t want to share power. They hate them still and do not lose an opportunity to reduce them and wherever possible, eliminate them.