The Hitchhiker

Robert Gwathmey

The Hitchhiker


Color Serigraph

16 3/4 x 13 1/8 inches

unknown but small

Keith Sheridan, LLC

Myrtle Beach, SC


$5,500 - $12,000

More Information

Signed in ink, in the image, lower right. A fine impression, with fresh colors, on cream wove paper; full margins (1 5/8 to 2 5/8 inches). Light toning to the paper within a previous mat opening, otherwise in excellent condition. Scarce.

Created when the country was still in the throes of the Great Depression, the work depicts the social inequalities of the time, contrasting the plight of the hitchhikers with the lives of the affluent, promoted in the background billboards. Gwathmey's use of flat color and graphic simplification, emulating the imagery of consumerism and popular culture, predates that of the Pop-Art movement by almost 20 years.

"This screenprint is Based upon Gwathmey's earliest surviving oil painting, also entitled the "The Hitchhiker", of 1936 (Brooklyn Museum, New York), which he later described as his first mature painting. In 1938 he destroyed all of his previous work with the exception of this picture, the related screenprint and a couple of watercolors." –Stephen Coppel, "The American Scene, Prints from Hopper to Pollock", British Museum exhibition catalog (featured on the back cover), 2008.

Judd Tully, a journalist who interviewed Gwathmey in 1985, confirms that the painting is autobiographical: "The shirt-sleeved figure in the foreground, with thumb to the sky, could well be the painter, heading back home to Richmond" –Hot Off the Press, Tyler & Walker, Ed., 43.

Collections: Boston Museum of Fine Arts, British Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, Reba and Dave Williams.