Treasury Relief Art Project

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Reginald Marsh and his assistants completed 2,300 square feet of murals in fresco for the rotunda of the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House (1937), the Treasury Relief Art Project's most extensive and successful project in New York.

The Treasury Relief Art Project was a New Deal arts program that commissioned visual artists to provide artistic decoration for existing Federal buildings during the Great Depression in the United States. A project of the United States Department of the Treasury, TRAP was administered by the Section of Painting and Sculpture and funded by the Works Progress Administration, which provided assistants employed through the Federal Art Project. The Treasury Relief Art Project also created murals and sculpture for Public Works Administration housing projects. TRAP was established July 21, 1935, and continued through June 30, 1938.

Program[edit]

Murals in fresco by Reginald Marsh for the rotunda of the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House (1937)

The Treasury Relief Art Project was created July 21, 1935,[1] with an allocation of $530,784 from the Works Progress Administration. The project was conceived and overseen by Treasury Department arts administrator Edward Bruce. Artist Olin Dows was chief of the Treasury Relief Art Project;[2]:xxiv–xxx Cecil H. Jones, who later succeeded Dows, was assistant chief. Forbes Watson was director.[3] Unlike the concurrent Treasury Section of Painting and Sculpture, TRAP was a work-relief program, subject to the income and employment standards of the WPA.[2]:xxix The September 1935 announcement of the program estimated that it would employ 400 to 500 artists.[2]:38

The principal mission of the Treasury Relief Art Project was to provide artistic decoration for existing Federal buildings.[4] These projects could not be performed by the Section of Painting and Sculpture,[5]:62 which commissioned art for new construction using a percentage of the budget overseen by the Treasury Department's procurement division.[2]:xxvi–xxvii The Treasury Relief Art Project was funded by the WPA. The Section supervised the creative output of TRAP, and selected a master artist for each project. Assistants were then chosen by the artist from the rolls of the WPA Federal Art Project.[5]:62–63

As chief of the Treasury Relief Art Project, Dows was responsible for maintaining financial records for relief and non-relief personnel. A fixed proportion of all workers was to be taken from the relief rolls—initially 90 percent,[2]:xxxii but revised to 75 percent in December 1935.[2]:47

Although it was regarded as a success, the Treasury Relief Art Project was ended June 30, 1938.[2]:xxx

Projects[edit]

Heinz Warneke, Bears Playing (1938), sculpture for the Harlem River Houses
Suburban Post in Winter (1938), mural by William Gropper for the post office in Freeport, New York

At a total cost of $833,784,[5]:63 89 mural projects and 65 sculpture projects were completed under the Treasury Relief Art Project, as well as 10,000 easel paintings that were distributed to Federal offices.[1]

Reginald Marsh was the master artist commissioned in 1937 to create a cycle of murals in fresco for the rotunda of the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House. Marsh's team of assistants included Oliver M. Baker, Xavier J. Barile, Charles Bateman, Mary Fife, Lloyd Lozes Goff, Ludwig Mactarian, John Poehler, Erica Volsung[5]:72–73 and J. Walkley, students he knew from his teaching at the Art Students League.[6]:6 It was TRAP's most extensive and successful project in New York,[5]:72 encompassing 2,300 square feet.[6]:6

Existing post office buildings that received TRAP artwork included the following:

In addition to producing artwork for Federal buildings, the Treasury Relief Art Project created murals and sculpture for Public Works Administration housing projects in Boston, Camden, Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Washington, D.C.[2]:xxx and Stamford.[17]

Artists[edit]

To maintain its high artistic standards, the Treasury Relief Art Project commissioned only a small number of artists—356 workers at its peak[2]:xxiv in 1936. Richmond Barthé, Ahron Ben-Shmuel, Paul Cadmus, Marion Greenwood, William Gropper, Reginald Marsh and Heinz Warneke were among the master artists who led projects.[1] A complete list of projects and artists employed by TRAP is included in the final report held by the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art.[2]:185

 

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Treasury Relief Art Project, 1935–1939". National Archives Catalog. Retrieved 2016-04-20.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Kalfatovic, Martin R. (1994). The New Deal Fine Arts Projects: A Bibliography, 1933–1992. Metuchen, New Jersey: The Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0-8108-2749-2.
  3. ^ "Treasury Relief Art Project selected administrative and business records, 1935–1939". Archives of American Art. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2016-04-22.
  4. ^ "New Deal Artwork: GSA's Inventory Project". General Services Administration. Retrieved 2016-04-22.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by bz ca cb O'Connor, Francis V. (Autumn 1969). "The New Deal Art Projects in New York". The American Art Journal. Kennedy Galleries, Inc. 1 (2): 58–79. JSTOR 1593876.
  6. ^ a b "United States Custom House Interior" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. January 9, 1979. Retrieved 2016-04-26.
  7. ^ a b "Main Post Office Mural – Berkeley CA". The Living New Deal. Department of Geography, University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved 2016-04-22.
  8. ^ a b c d e "New York New Deal Art". wpamurals.com. Retrieved 2016-04-23.
  9. ^ a b "Post Office Murals – Cranford NJ". The Living New Deal. Department of Geography, University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved 2016-04-23.
  10. ^ "Delaware Post Office New Deal Artwork". wpamurals.com. Retrieved 2016-04-24.
  11. ^ "The Dover Delaware Post Office Mural: Harvest, Spring and Summer". William D. White. Retrieved 2016-04-27.
  12. ^ a b "Eureka Courthouse and Post Office Murals – Eureka CA". The Living New Deal. Department of Geography, University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  13. ^ "Historic Properties Listing". Preservation. Westchester County Historical Society. Retrieved 2016-04-23.
  14. ^ "WPA Mural Remnants At Former Post Office Annex". New York Landmarks Conservancy. Retrieved 2016-04-23.
  15. ^ a b "Ventura, CA New Deal Art". wpamurals.com. Retrieved 2016-04-24.
  16. ^ a b Marling, Karal Ann (1982). Wall-to-Wall America: A Cultural History of Post Office Murals in the Great Depression. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 9780816636730.
  17. ^ a b Lawton, Rebecca E. "Heroic America: James Daugherty's Mural Drawings from the 1930s". Resource Library. Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc. Retrieved 2016-04-22.
  18. ^ a b c d e Vendryes, Margaret Rose (2008). Barthé: A Life in Sculpture. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. pp. 82–83. ISBN 9781604730920.
  19. ^ "Federal Building and U. S. Courthouse: Bisttram Murals – Albuquerque NM". The Living New Deal. Department of Geography, University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved 2016-04-22.
  20. ^ "Carlsbad Museum Mural – Carlsbad NM". The Living New Deal. Department of Geography, University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  21. ^ "Courthouse Mural – Gainesville GA". The Living New Deal. Department of Geography, University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  22. ^ a b "Post Office (former) Mural – Glenwood Springs CO". The Living New Deal. Department of Geography, University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  23. ^ "Birch Bayh Federal Building Murals – Indianapolis IN". The Living New Deal. Department of Geography, University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  24. ^ "A Shy Artist Paints Bold Murals". Life. October 25, 1937. Retrieved 2016-04-23.
  25. ^ "Post Office (former) Murals – Mount Kisco NY". The Living New Deal. Department of Geography, University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  26. ^ "Post Office Bas Relief – Bedford IN". The Living New Deal. Department of Geography, University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved 2016-04-22.
  27. ^ "Byron White U.S. Courthouse Sculptures – Denver CO". The Living New Deal. Department of Geography, University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  28. ^ "Post Office (former) frescos – Beverly Hills CA". The Living New Deal. Department of Geography, University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  29. ^ "Ann Rice O'Hanlon Fresco Mural – Lexington KY". The Living New Deal. Department of Geography, University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  30. ^ "Post Office Murals—Hudson Falls NY". Living New Deal. Retrieved 2017-12-07.
  31. ^ "Main Post Office Bas Relief – Berkeley CA". The Living New Deal. Department of Geography, University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved 2016-04-22.
  32. ^ "Post Office Murals – Altoona PA". The Living New Deal. Department of Geography, University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved 2016-04-22.
  33. ^ "Wesley United Church Education Center (Old Post Office) Mural – Dover DE". The Living New Deal. Department of Geography, University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved 2016-04-22.

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