Public Works of Art Project
The Public Works of Art Project was a program to employ artists, as part of the New Deal, during the Great Depression. It was the first such program, running from December 1933 to June 1934. It was headed by Edward Bruce, under the United States Treasury Department and paid for by the Civil Works Administration.
Purpose and Scope of the PWAP
The purpose of the PWAP was "to give work to artists by arranging to have competent representatives of the profession embellish public buildings." Artists were told that the subject matter had to be related to the "American scene". Artworks from the project were shown or incorporated into a variety of locations, including the White House and House of Representatives.
Artists participating in the project were paid wages of $38 - $46.50/week. Participants were required to be professional artists, and in total, 3,749 artists were hired, and 15,663 works were produced.
San Francisco PWAP
The largest of the projects sponsored by the PWAP were the Coit Tower murals in San Francisco’s Coit Tower, employing a total of 44 artists and assistants. In 1933, Ralph Stackpole and Bernard Zakheim supervised the muralists, who were mainly faculty and students of the California School of Fine Arts (CSFA), including Maxine Albro, Victor Arnautoff, Ray Bertrand, Rinaldo Cuneo, Mallette Harold Dean, Clifford Wight, Parker Hall, Edith Hamlin, George Harris, Robert B. Howard, Otis Oldfield, Suzanne Scheuer, Hebe Daum and Frede Vidar. During the painting of the murals, the Big Strike of 1934 shut down the Pacific Coast. Though it has been claimed that allusions to the event were subversively included in the murals by some of the artists, in fact the murals were largely completed before the strike began.
Griffith Observatory's Astronomers Monument
Another significant project funded by PWAP is the Astronomers Monument at Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. The monument is a large outdoor concrete sculpture on the front lawn that pays homage to six of the greatest astronomers of all time: Hipparchus (about 150 BC); Nicholas Copernicus (1473–1543); Galileo Galilei (1564–1642); Johannes Kepler (1571–1630); Isaac Newton (1642–1727); and William Herschel (1738–1822). Soon after the PWAP began in December 1933, in cooperation with the Los Angeles Park Commission, PWAP commissioned a sculpture project on the grounds of the new Observatory (which was under construction). Using a design by local artist Archibald Garner and materials donated by the Women's' Auxiliary of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, Garner and five other artists sculpted and cast the concrete monument and figures. Each artist was responsible for sculpting one astronomer; one of the artists, George Stanley, was also the creator of the famous "Oscar" statuette presented at the Academy Awards. On November 25, 1934 (about six months prior to the opening of the Observatory), a celebration took place to mark completion of the Astronomers Monument. The only "signature" on the Astronomers Monument is "PWAP 1934" referring to the program which funded the project and the year it was completed.
- Federal Art Project, a New Deal federal arts program operated by the Works Progress Administration which ran from 1935 to 1943.
- Section of Painting and Sculpture, a New Deal federal arts program also operated by the United States Department of the Treasury.
- "History of the New Deal Art Projects". wpaMurals.com - New Deal Art During the Great Depression. Retrieved July 29, 2005.
- Brown, Elizabeth. "1934: A New Deal for Artists". Smithsonian American Art Museum. Retrieved 9 October 2013.
- Adler, Jerry. "1934: The Art of the New Deal". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 9 October 2013.
- Mahoney, Eleanor. "The Public Works of Art Project in Washington State". Retrieved 9 October 2013.
- Kellogg, Florence Loeb (June 1934). "Art Becomes Public Works". Survey Graphic.
- "The Commission of The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City". Diergo Rivera Mural. San Francisco Art Institute. 2013. Retrieved 1-12-2013.
- Pohl, Frances K. (2008). Framing America. A Social History of American Art. New York: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 978-0-500-28715-6.
- Contreras, Belisario R. (1983). Tradition and Innovation in New Deal Art. London and Toronto: Associated University Presses.
- O'Connor, Francis V., ed. (1973). Art for the Millions: Essays from the 1930s by Artists and Administrators of the WPA Federal Art Project. Boston: New York Graphic Society.
- "1934: A New Deal for Artists" is an exhibition featuring artworks from the Public Works of Art Project at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. This site contains a slide show, public programs, and recent news stories
- Public Works of Art Project, video