As a student of George Luks, second-generation ashcan school painter, Joseph Hirsch's (1910-1980) mastery of draftsmanship and color brought him prizes and early recognition. But it was his skill at finding powerful symbolic imagery within the ordinary that gave his paintings and prints an emotional strength that brought him national acclaim, as well as numerous awards and institutional recognition throughout his career. His World War II-era war bonds poster Till We Meet Again became a rallying cry for patriotism. His political views and compassionate depiction of social justice issues throughout the 1930s and 1940s made him a target during the McCarthy hearings of the 1950s, and he became an expatriate in Paris for a few years. But he eventually returned to America, where he taught extensively and created artwork throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

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