Ahoy, ahoy!  Well, we are full swing into November and winter is definitely creeping up on us here in Sackville.  Last class we covered a lot of ground, and we are moving out of landscape painting and into paintings that represent social activity and people instead.

The Great Depression affected everyone.  After the Wall Street crash of 1929, millions of people were put out of work.  Artists, especially, had no one to sell their art to.  In an effort to help provide these artists with work, various different programs sprung up that put artists to work, mostly by decorating public buildings.  Two such programs were operated by the United States Department of the Treasury which were the Public Works of Art Project and the Section of Painting and Sculpture.  Another program was the Federal Art Program which was operated by the Works Progress Administration.  Each program was slightly different from one another and provided many artists with a source of income, though it probably was fairly small.

Public Works of Art Project

This project was the first of it’s kind.  It commissioned artists to sculpt and paint public works intended as either monuments or decorations.  Two of the biggest projects that came from this organization were the murals for the Coit Tower in San Fransisco and the monument to six famous astronomers at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.  The murals at the Coit Tower sometimes included commentary on what was happening in the world as they were being created.

A Part of the Coit Murals


Section of Painting and Sculpture

In the United States today, you can still view murals painted under this program in older postal buildings.  This program awarded money based on artistic talent, so it was a constant competitive atmosphere for artists who were involved.  It also allowed for the best possible art to be what would adorn federal public buildings.

Mural in the Wakefield, Rhode Island post office.

Federal Art Program

In addition to murals and sculptures, the Federal Art Program also commissioned posters.  There were hundreds of thousands of works created by many artists under this program, including Jackson Pollock, before he became famous on his own!  This was the last program of its kind, and ended with the advent of World War Two.

Promotional Poster from 1941

These different programs encouraged artists to continue working, though it may not have been in the style they wanted.  The work created from these projects, especially the murals are still around for viewing today!

Thats all for now!