1934: A new Deal for Artists.

Posted on February 28, 2009


Franz Kline 1910-1962
Franz Kline 1910-1962
  • 1934: A new Deal for Artists. A retrospective of American Art of the Depression.


    The exhibit at the Smithsonian American Art Museum showing now through January 3, 2010 is an example of what a government stimulus program can do not only for the arts but also for the country. The selected works tell the story of the Great Depression through the eyes of American artists of the time. President Franklin Roosevelt’s administration created the first government program to support the arts nationally. He and his administration understood how art could sustain the American spirit during a time of crisis and great hardship.


    The program only lasted six months from December 1933 to June 1934. Artists were paid to depict “the American Scene”. Many public artworks were as we know them today site specific like percent for the art projects. Others were created throughout American in cities and in rural America. Artists not only had an opportunity to earn a living through the program during the depression they also were able to serve their country in a time of crisis.


    You can see the exhibit on the web at http://americanart.si.edu/


    One thing I noticed is that many of these artists went on after the program and had very successful and influential carriers like Franz Kline.


    Once you are at the Smithsonian site, you can click on the link to see the Flash Program of the exhibit. I had trouble with the Flash version and you may have to adjust your computers program to view it if your security program blocks the application. I have included the link to the Non-Flash page that I found worked just fine.


    Non Flash Link



    Take a little time and look at what artists did during the last depression a time of crisis not unlike today’s financial crisis in America. It is clear to me as an Artist that the Art’s can sustain the human spirit in times of crisis and that Art can give us not only hope but purpose in our endeavors.


    Enjoy the 1934: A new Deal for Artists Exhibit