Federal Art Project

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Employment and activities poster for the WPA's Federal Art Project (1936)

The Federal Art Project (FAP) was the visual arts arm of the Great Depression-era New Deal Works Progress Administration Federal One program in the United States. It operated from August 29, 1935, until June 30, 1943. Reputed to have created more than 200,000 separate works, FAP artists created posters, murals and paintings. Some works still stand among the most-significant pieces of public art in the country.[1]

The program made no distinction between representational and nonrepresentational art. Abstraction had not yet gained favor in the 1930s and 1940s and, thus, was virtually unsalable. As a result, the program supported such iconic artists as Jackson Pollock before their work could earn them income.[2]

The FAP's primary goals were to employ out-of-work artists and to provide art for non-federal government buildings: schools, hospitals, libraries, etc. The work was divided into art production, art instruction and art research. The primary output of the art-research group was the Index of American Design, a mammoth and comprehensive study of American material culture.

The FAP was one of a short-lived series of Depression-era visual-arts programs, which included the Section of Painting and Sculpture and the Public Works of Art Project (both of which, unlike the WPA-operated FAP, were operated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury).

Notable artists[edit]

Some of the well-known artists supported by the project include: