The United States entered the 1940s a shaken nation. The Depression years had been difficult nationwide. Poverty and unemployment had led to labor strife and the rise of socialist and communist sentiment, and to questions about the overall structure of American society. As a result many artists had become socially aware and active. Artists and writers of the 1930s were stark and realistic, focused on the common man. Social justice at home was their primary concern, but they also kept a cautious eye on Europe, where fascism was on the rise and war had broken out as Germany expanded. These artistic concerns continued into the 1940s, but Americans' creative endeavors also began to reflect a shift in American society, as World War II stimulated the economy and brought the nation out of the Depression. Prosperity replaced poverty. The film industry was presenting a darker view of the world, not simply providing light entertainment. American painters had discovered abstraction, and America's writers had left realistic, community concerns for introspection and an examination of form. American life began to stratify into a society of rigid, materialistic conformity and an underclass. During the 1940s the majority of American artists pursued individual concerns rather than social movements or popular entertainment.
World War II...
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