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Anton Refregier

End of the Conference

On June 26, 1945, the world’s leaders gathered in San Francisco to write a charter for the United Nations, and Russian-born artist Anton Refregier was Fortune magazine’s artist correspondent for the conference. He critiqued and satirized the political infighting and feigned civility that ran rampant. In End of the Conference, Refregier suggests frustration and resignation with the proceedings as two workers remove the flags that symbolize the spirit of international cooperation. The two men are not posed, nor do they treat the flags with any sense of respect. They are ambivalent to the symbolism and the success of the event and simply want to finish the job they were hired to do. Refregier implies that the flags are simply window dressing: a symbol of fake unification. He intensifies the ironic outcome of the conference by placing this scene in front of the Golden Gate Bridge, a metaphor for America’s post-Isolationist accessibility and a coastal “counterpart to the Statue of Liberty.”

Refregier spent much of his career critiquing racial injustice, social inequality, and the hypocrisy of politics. After a brief apprenticeship in Paris, he immigrated to the United States and studied at the Rhode Island School of Design on scholarship. After graduation, he moved to New York, where he worked for interior decorators, recreating compositions by François Boucher and Jean-Honoré Fragonard on the walls of upscale apartments.

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