Weston was preoccupied with realism in his art in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Simultaneously he was increasingly concerned about the political situation in Europe. The prospect of global war brought to his mind the devastation of wartime famine in Persia, and in 1942 he quit painting to go to Washington to lobby political heavyweights for famine relief. Through his work running Food for Freedom, a one-man organization that eventually was able to speak for sixty million Americans through labor, civic, and church groups, Weston became an expert on food policies and the politics that motivated them. Many credited him with securing food for tens of millions of refugees after the war.

Weston was exhausted from the high-pressure work and somewhat at a loss as to how to re-enter his painting career after a lapse of seven years. Suddenly fueled by idealism, he decided to paint the construction of the United Nations headquarters in New York City, a project that absorbed him from 1949-52, a time when hyper-realism was fast going out of fashion. <previous page / next page>

Study for building the United Nations, No. 2.
Watercolor on paper, 1949-52

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