American WPA Era Art

New Deal Art


(above: Albany Institute of History and Art Exhibition, poster, WPA Federal Art Project)



This section of the Traditional Fine Arts Organization (TFAO) catalogue Topics in American Art is devoted to the topic "American WPA Era Art, New Deal Art." Articles and essays specific to this topic published in TFAO's Resource Library are listed at the beginning of the section. Clicking on titles takes readers directly to these articles and essays. The date at the end of each title is the Resource Library publication date.

Following the listing of Resource Library articles and essays is the heading "TFAO references." The count of pages in the TFAO website citing relevant keywords is an indicator of our breadth of coverage for this topic. We recommend that readers search within the TFAO website to find detailed information for any topic. Please see our page How to research topics not listed for more information.

After "TFAO references" are links to valuable online resources found outside our website. Links may be to museums' articles about exhibits, plus much more topical information based on our online searches.

Following online resources is information about offline resources including museums, DVDs, and paper-printed books, journals and articles.

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Articles and essays from Resource Library in chronological order:

Sargent Claude Johnson: A Masterpiece Restored (2/28/14)

The Commercial vs. Fine Art in the Ceramic Sculpture of Waylande Gregory; article by Thomas Folk (12/18/13)

Modern Dialect: from the John & Susan Horseman Collection (8/21/13)

California Scene Paintings from 1930 to 1960 (4/15/13)

The Ceramic Sculpture of Waylande Gregory; artilce by Thomas Folk (3/22/13)

Maurice Merlin and the American Scene, 1930-1947 (2/7/13)

A Federal Art Project: Posters for Indian Court (5/3/12)

WPA Artists in Print (12/10/10)

The American Scene: New Deal Art 1935-1943 (9/15/10)

Surviving Hard Times: WPA Artists; essay by Sue Ann Robinson (11/10/09)

William Palmer: Drawing from Life (9/2/09)

American Women at Work: Women Printmakers and the Federal Art Project; essay by Mary Francey (7/9/09)

Grant Wood: An American Master Revealed; article by Brady Roberts & James M. Dennis (4/22/09)

Hobos to Street People: Artists' Responses to Homelessness from the New Deal to the Present; article by Jean Schiffman (3/12/09)

American Printmakers and the Federal Art Project; essay by Mary Francey (10/18/08)

The Federal Art Project: Supporting Good Artists in Bad Times (1/24/08)

Craft in America - Expanding Traditions (11/20/07)

Grant Wood's Corn Room Mural (9/17/07)

Howard Cook: Drawings of Alabama; essay by Stephen Goldfarb (2/23/07)

For the People: American Mural Drawings of the 1930s and 1940s (1/23/07)

America at Work: WPA Prints from the Gibbes Collection (11/9/06)

Heroic America: James Daugherty's Mural Drawings from the 1930s; essay by Rebecca E. Lawton (6/23/05)

The W.P.A. Era: Art Across America (8/17/04)

The Nebraska FERA Art Exhibit; article by Ernest F. Witte (8/15/03)

Depression Legacy: Nebraska's Post Office Art; article by Elizabeth Anderson (8/13/03)

New Deal Artist Ernest E. Stevens; article by Florence Canfield Burden (8/1/03)

Sante Graziani, born 1920, Mural, 1943-1947; essay by Mary E. Kinnecome (1/3/02)

Wisconsin's New Art Deal, essay segment by Mary Michie (9/29/01)

Prints of American Life: WPA Works on Paper from the Webster Collection (8/23/01)

PSU Collects WPA (2/15/00)

WPA Collection at Rockford Art Museum (7/21/99)

Sin Nombre: Hispana and Hispano Artists of the New Deal Era (5/29/99)


TFAO references:

A 4/15/13 search within the TFAO digital library retrieved 279 pages referencing the acronym "WPA."

A 9/15/14 search within the TFAO digital library retrieved 189 pages referencing the phrase "New Deal."


(above: David Stone Martin, Electrification, 1940, Tempera on cardboard. Treasury Section of Fine Arts, Fine Arts Collection, General Services Administration)


From other websites:

1934: A New Deal for Artists, an exhibit held May 26 - August 21, 2011 at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. Includes online video. Accessed April, 2015.

A New Deal for Illinois: The Federal Art Project Collection of Western Illinois University, an exhibit held September 14, 2013 - January 5, 2014 at the Figge Art Museum. Includes images. Accessed August, 2015.

Arkansas Post Office Murals from University of Central Arkansas. Accessed August, 2015.

Art for the People: Carl W. Peters and the Rochester WPA Murals is a 2015 exhibit at the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester which says: "This exhibition will highlight a group of recently restored mural studies by Rochester artist Carl W. Peters for 13 extant WPA murals, most of which were done for the Rochester City School District. Also featuring additional work by Peters and a series of WPA posters on loan from the Library of Congress, this exciting project illuminates an important moment in local and national history." Accessed 8/18

By the People, For the People: Posters from the WPA, 1936-1943 from the Library of Congress, including sections on understanding the collection of the LOC, special presentations and information on working with the collection. Accessed August, 2015.

"Chatham Post Office Mural Depicts Southern Harvest" By Herman E. Melton, Special to the Star-Tribune, Chatham, Virginia, March 21, 2001. Accessed August, 2015.

The Chicago Humanities Festival presents a Terra Foundation for American Art lecture series with art history slideshows online including "Picturing New Deal America: Visual Art and National Identity," November 8, 2008, by art historian Erika Doss. Accessed August, 2015.

Enough to Live On: Art from the WPA is a 2017 exhibit at the Krannert Art Museum which says: "This exhibition focuses on WPA works -- prints, paintings, and sculptures -- allocated from the federal government that are currently housed in the museum's permanent collection."  Accessed 2/19

Federal Art Project, from Wikipedia. accessed July, 2015

For the People: Nebraska's New Deal Art is an online exhibition of works by Nebraska artists, produced while they were employed by the Civil Works Administration in 1933 - 34, from Nebraska State Historical Society. Accessed August, 2015.

Prints from the WPA, from M. Lee Stone Fine Prints, Inc. Accessed August, 2015.

Indians at the Post Office: Native Themes in New Deal-Era Murals from Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. Accessed August, 2015.

National New Deal Preservation Association website. Accessed August, 2015.

"New Deal" Art in New Mexico by Kathryn Flynn from Collector's Guide. Accessed August, 2015.

New Deal Art: the WPA and FAP from askArt. Accessed August, 2015.

New Deal Art During the Great Depression from Nancy Lorance. This website contains information on art for each state in the US, biographical information on artists, and much more.

"New Deal Muralists: 'not in harmony with existing conditions'" from McKinzie, Richard D. The New Deal for Artists (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1973) - Fletcher Martin's Mine Rescue, a mural proposed for the Kellogg, Idaho, Post Office, but rejected by local businessmen. Accessed August, 2015.

New Deal Post Office Murals from Parma Conservation. Accessed August, 2015.

New Deal for the Arts from Archives of American Art. Accessed August, 2015.

Off The Wall: New Deal Post Office Murals by Patricia Raynor, from The National Postal Museum, a Smithsonian Institution museum. Accessed August, 2015.

Michael W. Padwee maintained as of May 2013 "a blog about ceramic and terra cotta tiles used in architecture and architectural ornamentation in New York" named Tiles in New York. Mr. Padwee is an historian and collector of United States art tiles. A May 1, 2013 entry covers Newark WPA tile murals. Accessed August, 2015.

Post Office Murals by Philip Parisi, from Texas State Historical Association. Accessed August, 2015.

Revisiting Federal Art in Cleveland 1933-43 by Sharon E. Dean, Ph.D. from the Cleveland Artists Foundation. Accessed August, 2015.

Single G Mural at the Cambridge City, Indiana Post Office from Waynet. Inc. Accessed August, 2015.

The Works Progress Administration (WPA) Collection from the Illinois State Museum. Accessed August, 2015.

The WPA: An Exhibition of Works Progress Administration (WPA) Literature and Art from the Collections of the Bienes Center for the Literary Arts from Broward County Library (Florida) (Bienes Center for the Literary Arts). Accessed August, 2015.


The American Art channel of ArtBabble as of August, 2009 included "1934: A New Deal for Artists" from Smithsonian American Art Museum [0:30:32] [Link found to be expired as of 2015 audit. TFAO is saving the citation for use by researchers.]

From the Library of Congress, By the People, For the People: Posters from the WPA, 1936-1943 includes as of 2013 a section on special presentations including Interview with WPA Silkscreen Artist Tony Velonis from a December, 1994 symposium on the WPA titled "Amassing American Stuff: The New Deal Arts Collections of the Library of Congress." The online interview with master silkscreen printer Anthony (Tony) Velonis took place at that time as one of several in-depth interviews with notable figures of the WPA projects. (description from LOC web site) Accessed August, 2015.

From the Museum of International Folk Art, the online exhibition Sin Nombre: Hispana and Hispano Artists of the New Deal Era includes as of 2013 the curator's video introduction of the exhibition. Accessed August, 2015.

Oceanside Museum of Art WPA Depression-era art from KPBS. [Link found to be expired as of 2015 audit. TFAO is saving the citation for use by researchers.]

Post Office Art and Architecture in Central PA Blinks says: "Produced by WVIA-TV, this 2 minute trailer promotes film called "New Deal Legacy" that features unique post office art and architecture in Lewisburg, Selinsgrove, Mifflinburg, Northumberland, Milton, Bellefonte, Danville, Bloomsburg, Williamsport and Renovo." Accessed August, 2015.

Weisman Art Museum's 'New Deal' Blinks says: "The Weisman Art Museum is presenting about 1,000 paintings, prints and murals from New Deal-era artists (2:30)." [Link found to be expired as of 2015 audit. TFAO is saving the citation for use by researchers.]


DVD/VHS videos:

Artists at Work: The New Deal Art Projects Describes visual arts programs developed in 1935--43 by the U. S. government to support American artists during the Depression. 35-minute video. Description source: Amon Carter Museum Teacher Resource Center. The Museum contains a comprehensive lending library including many videos. TFAO wishes to extend appreciation to Katherine Moloney, Teaching and Visual Resources Coordinator, for acquainting TFAO with the Museum's collection. Available through Las Positas College Library.
Promises Kept: WPA Art Treasures of New Mexico [26:32] In small towns across New Mexico are treasures from one of New Mexico's great artistic periods. For years they have been hidden away in schools, post offices and court houses. Promises Kept rediscovers our WPA artistic heritage by interviewing some of the remaining WPA artists such as Pablita Velarde and by looking closely at the artists and artworks themselves. The goal: to form a new respect, appreciation and to help preserve this treasures for generations to come. Funded in part by New Mexico Arts, a division of the Office of Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts and the National New Deal Art Restoration Task Force. Orginally broadcast on New Mexico PBS station KNME. View the video in it's entirety here. View Part 1 [07:20], Part 2 [10:25], Part 3 [07:55]

TFAO does not maintain a lending library of videos or sell videos. Click here for information on how to borrow or purchase copies of VHS videos and DVDs listed in TFAO's Videos -DVD/VHS, an authoritative guide to videos in VHS and DVD format



The New Deal for Artists, by Richard D. McKinzie. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1973)

Works Progress Administration's Alaska Art Project, 1937: a retrospective exhibition, by Lynn K. Binek, Karl Eugene Fortess, Merlin F. Pollock, Anchorage Museum of History and Art, Alaska State Museum, University of Alaska Museum, Anchorage Museum of History and Art. Published by Anchorage Museum of History and Art, 1987. Exhibition at Anchorage Museum of History and Art, May 10-Aug. 31, 1987, University of Alaska Museum, Oct. 31-Dec. 13, 1987 and Alaska State Museum Jan. 28-Mar. 3, 1988. 47 pages. Source: Google Books


Suggested music to accompany reading of texts about New Deal Art:

"We're in the Money," lyrics by Al Dubin, music by Harry Warren (from the film Gold Diggers of 1933, 1933)


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