Visualizing Labor in American Sculpture: Monuments, Manliness, and the Work Ethic, 1880-1935

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Originally published in 1999, Visualizing Labor in American Sculpture focuses on representations of work in American sculpture, from the decade in which the American Federation of Labor was formed, to the inauguration of the federal works project that subsidized American artists during the Great Depression. Monumental in form and commemorative in function, these sculptural works provide a public record of attitudes toward labor in a transitional moment in the history of relations between labor and management. Melissa Dabakis argues that sculptural imagery of industrial labor shaped attitudes towards work and the role of the worker in modern society. Restoring a group of important monuments to the history of labor, gender studies and American art history, her book focuses on key monuments and small-scale works in which labor was often constituted as 'manly' and where the work ethic mediated both production and reception.