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John Q. Public had planned on buying a double-decked bed for his youngsters to celebrate his raise in salary, but gave up the idea upon discovering that the price of furniture had received about five or six increases on account of higher costs of production.

A work made of gelatin silver prints with paper and paint collaged.

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  • A work made of gelatin silver prints with paper and paint collaged.

Date:

1937, published April 27, 1937

Artist:

Vaughn Shoemaker
American, 1902–1991

About this artwork

The editorial cartoonist Vaughn Shoemaker created the character of John Q. Public to represent the average American caught between bureaucracy, incompetence, and economic imbalance. John Q. Public first appeared in The Chicago Daily News, where Shoemaker—who later won two Pulitzer prizes for his cartoons—began his career in 1922. In numerous collage illustrations, Shoemaker’s beleaguered fictional character intervenes in actual scenes documented by staff photographers. The combination of seemingly impartial photographs with an indignant sketched figure—all underlined by a pointed caption—vividly outlined imbalances of power and fairness. This 1937 image would otherwise have served as a perfectly lit advertising photograph, but the reaction of the flabbergasted drawn character to the increased cost of living is summed up in a caption suggesting the mismatch between his paltry raise and the skyrocketing cost of furniture.

Status

Currently Off View

Department

Photography and Media

Artist

Vaughn Shoemaker

Title

John Q. Public had planned on buying a double-decked bed for his youngsters to celebrate his raise in salary, but gave up the idea upon discovering that the price of furniture had received about five or six increases on account of higher costs of production.

Place

United States (Artist's nationality)

Date

Made 1937

Medium

Gelatin silver prints with paper and paint collaged

Dimensions

Image/paper: 21.3 × 28 cm (8 7/16 × 11 1/16 in.)

Credit Line

Purchased with funds provided by Robin and Sandy Stuart

Reference Number

2011.310

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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