A keen observer of the absurdity of the human condition, Mabel Dwight is best known for her lightly satirical depictions of life in New York City and has been called "the Master of the Comedie Humaine" (Rubinstein 224).
She captured the tragic and comic side of people living in cities, many of them on velvety lithographs where she used a crayon technique to create white shapes against dark backgrounds--parodies of the human situation. She also did portraits and architectural prints. She has been labelled an American Scene painter, a colleague of Wanda Gag and Rockwell Kent.
She was born in Cincinnati, raised in New Orleans, and studied art in San Francisco at the Hopkins Art School where she was a contemporary of California decorative artist Lucia Matthews. However, Dwight's work gives no indication of that influence. She became a socialist and full of religious fervor, ever championing the underdog in society. She believed that poverty was the great disease and was totally unnecessary in modern times.
She traveled extensively in Europe but did not come into her own style until she was in her fifties. In Paris, she worked with the French printer, Cuchatel, and made lithographs of the city which led to her commitment to that medium. In the United States, she became known for her dark lithographs of city life, and between 1935 and 1939, did prints and watercolors for the Federal Art Project.