Federal Art Project

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Employment and activities poster for the WPA's Federal Art Project (1936)
External video
Archives of American Art - William C. Palmer - 5817.jpg
GSA Recovers Historic New Deal Art. U.S. General Services Administration[1]
Poster for Federal Art Project exhibition of art by WPA Federal Art Project artists at the Albany Institute of History and Art.

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.[2]

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.[3]

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]

"Wild Life: The National Parks Preserve All Life.", New York City Federal Art Project, WPA, 1940
Poster for a Federal Art Project forum in New York City c. 1936-1941, at which Holger Cahill was one of the speakers

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

Willem de Kooning and Santiago Martínez Delgado were also employed by the FAP temporarily but were unable to stay because they were not U.S. citizens at the time.


See also[edit]



  1. ^ "GSA Recovers Historic New Deal Art". U.S. General Services Administration. Retrieved April 26, 2013. 
  2. ^ Kalfatovic, Martin R.; The New Deal fine arts projects (Metuchen, N.J. : Scarecrow Press, 1994) ISBN 0-8108-2749-2
  3. ^ Atkins, Robert (1993). ArtSpoke: A Guide to Modern Ideas, Movements, and Buzzwords, 1848-1944. Abbeville Press. ISBN 978-1-55859-388-6.
  4. ^ Curry's murals were funded by the Treasury Department's Section of Painting and Sculpture (later known as The Section of Fine Arts) and not the WPA.

Further reading

  • Kennedy, Roger G., and David Larkin (2009). When art worked. New York: Rizzoli. ISBN 978-0-8478-3089-3. 
  • Federal Art Project. New York City. Federal Art Centers of New York. FAP: New York, 1937? 8 pp.
    • A brief overview of art in America and the functions of the FAP. Brief description of what the FAP art centers do, particularly in New York City. Brief descriptions of the four art centers in New York: Contemporary Art Center; Brooklyn Community Art Center; Harlem Community Art Center; and the Queensboro Community Art Center. FOUND IN AAA Reel 1085.19-27

External links[edit]