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WPA Artists in Print
September 28, 2010 - March 27,
Prints by American
artists who worked during the Great Depression are on view September 28th,
2010 through March 27th, 2011, at the Michele and Donald
D'Amour Museum of Fine Arts in the exhibition WPA Artists in Print.
(right: Howard Norton Cook, American, 1901-1980, Fiesta, 1933,
Etching. Gift of the Springfield Union Subscribers 34.D05)
Prints by the noted artists Childe Hassam, Howard Cook,
Lawrence Kupferman and Reginald Marsh, many of which have not been exhibited
before, are included in the show.
The artists received support from the Works Progress Administration
(WPA), a federal program which provided economic opportunities during the
Great Depression as part of the New Deal. The Federal Art Project, in operation
from 1935-1943, was the visual arts arm of the program. It provided employment
for many out-of-work artists who created murals, posters, paintings and
prints which are now considered to be significant works of public art.
Many WPA murals were created for government agencies such
as post offices and administrative buildings. Paintings and works on paper
were later disseminated to museums. The WPA program led to the establishment
of the National Endowment for the Arts.
- Howard Cook
- American, 1901-1980
- Springfield, Massachusetts, native Howard Cook began
his career by earning a $500 scholarship that gave him the opportunity
to study at the Art Students League in New York City. This experience led
to more travel, and eventually the artist studied in Europe and in the
Southwest. Cook worked for many years mastering each of the major mediums:
etching, aquatint, woodcut, wood engraving, collage and painting. His illustrative
style, strong sense of design and energetic compositions are evident in
the works on view.
- Lawrence Kupferman
- American, 1909-1982
- Boston artist, Lawrence Kupferman studied at the Boston
Museum School for several years before becoming an instructor at the Massachusetts
College of Art (1941-1970). During the 1930s, Kupferman was employed by
the Works Progress Administration, making a series of etchings and dry
points, mostly of the facades of buildings. His style changed completely
in the 1940s, as he became political and expressionist. Later Kupferman
returned to making prints of buildings as he had in his early years.
- Childe Hassam
- American, 1859-1935
- Born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, Childe Hassam became
one of America's most noted Impressionist painters. Hassam began his artistic
career as a commercial illustrator and watercolorist in Boston, but he
soon chose to travel and study drawing and painting in Europe. Upon his
return, the artist settled in Manhattan, where he worked to refine his
artistic style. Throughout his career, Hassam explored subjects such as
New York street scenes, New England landscapes, genre scenes and, during
World War I, his famed series of flag paintings.
- The artist remained influential and prolific and helped
to found the Ten American Painters in 1898, a group of artists who withdrew
from the Society of American Artists in order to show their work in small,
non-juried exhibitions held annually from 1898 until 1918.
- Reginald Marsh
- American, 1898-1954
- An urban realist painter of New York City genre scenes,
Reginald Marsh devoted his career to depicting people engaged in everyday
life activities including bowery bums, vulgar party goers and working class
men and women. In the 1930s Marsh devoted much of his time to printmaking,
completing about 236 etchings, lithographs, and engravings. Born in Paris
to American-born parents, Marsh's family settled in New Jersey in 1900
and later in New Rochelle, New York. After graduating from Yale University,
he worked as a free-lance illustrator in New York City for the Daily
News and The New Yorker and studied at the Art Students League.
- Marsh briefly traveled to Europe then returned to New
York to pursue his sympathetic depiction of rogue subjects. In the 1930s,
he created murals for the WPA and was elected a full Academician to the
National Academy of Design several years later.
Wall text from the exhibition
- The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was a federal
program initiated by the United States government to provide economic opportunities
during the Great Depression as part of the New Deal. The Federal Art Project,
in operation from 1935-1943, was the visual arts arm of the program. It
provided employment opportunities for many out-of-work artists who created
murals, posters, paintings and prints which are now considered to be significant
works of public art. The program also included the creation of community
art centers with art classes and lectures that spawned a new appreciation
for American art while providing much-needed jobs.
- Many WPA murals were placed in or created for government
agencies such as post offices and administrative buildings. Paintings and
works on paper were later disseminated to museums. The D'Amour Museum of
Fine Arts is home to WPA works by several noted American artists represented
in this exhibition: Howard Cook, Childe Hassam, Lawrence Kupferman and
Reginald Marsh. The program was successful on many levels and led to the
establishment of the National Endowment for the Arts, an independent agency
of the United States government that offers support and funding for projects
exhibiting artistic excellence.
To view the checklist from the exhibition please click here.
To view additional images from the exhibition please click here.
Editor's note: RL readers may also enjoy the following:
and biographical information on artists cited in this article
in America's Distinguished Artists,
a national registry of historic artists.
Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional
source by visiting the sub-index page for the Springfield
Museums in Resource Library.
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