1916 January Masses
“The Masses” (1916) (Frank Walts cover) The Masses was perhaps the foremost radical magazine ever published in this country. While it began in 1911 as a rather staid reform organ, with the same cover on every issue, it took off at the end of 1912, when Max Eastman and John Sloan were cajoled into the positions of editor and art editor. (Eastman was notified of his "election" with a telegram which read: "You have been elected editor of The Masses. No pay.") Eastman recruited the most talented leading liberal and radical writers, who filled the magazine with fiery feminist and anti-war editorials (note the cover subject on this issue), while Sloan got many of the leading artists of the day---himself, Stuart Davis, George Bellows, Art Young, Robert Minor, Cornelia Barns, and Frank Walts among them---to complement the text with images of beauty, wit, and whimsy. The Post Office, caught up in the war frenzy of 1917, reacted to the anti-conscription messages of the magazine and revoked its 2nd class mailing privileges, effectively relegating it to the New York City market, and it published its last issue a month later. Though there were later incarnations, notably the Liberator, Worker’s Monthly, and the New Masses, these became increasingly sectarian in tone and never were able to live up to the original. Blame it on the times, if you will.
(Frank Walts Portrait)