Monday, February 01, 2010

1934: A New Deal For Artists At The Frick

Morris Kantor: Baseball At Night

It doesn't take a genius to figure out why interest in the Depression era has come back. Both the Frick and the Westmoreland are having shows of the art from that period, the only time when a large percentage of working artists in America recieved direct checks from the government to work.

"There was a lot of despair ... and shame at being on government relief," says Ann Wagner, one of the curators of the "New Deal" show. For both artists and Americans at large, "these works showed there was plenty to be proud of in their home areas."

The somewhat hokey video above has images from exhibition although there's a chance not all are touring.

"From mid-December 1933 to June 1934, artists participating in the short-lived federal program were encouraged to depict the American scene, but were free to portray any subject. The 54 paintings in the exhibition were created by artists whose birthplaces spanned the country (and in some cases the globe), and who represent a distinctly diverse vision of America.

Pittsburgh artist Harry W. Scheuch (1906–1978) is represented by two canvases depicting the construction of the Cathedral of Learning on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh. Portraits, cityscapes, city life, landscapes and rural life are all captured in this exhibition which provides a unique and lasting visual record of America at a specific moment in time."

Some would say artists were "strongly encouraged", resulting in works that border on propaganda, but undeniably, a diverse and unique portrait of the period has been left as well as a good number of truely great works.

Palmer Hayden, The Janitor Who Paints

This one looks worth the price of admission but lucky for us, THE FRICK IS FREE!

From The Washington Times

"The Public Works of Art Project was also open to female, black and Asian artists, who were otherwise denied opportunities. Washington artist Julia Eckel used her New Deal salary to portray radio performers while New Yorker Earle Richardson used his to paint black field hands in the "Employment of Negroes in Agriculture" (sadly, the 22-year-old artist committed suicide a year later). Japanese-born Kenjiro Nomura depicted the farms around Seattle before being interned during World War II in a camp where he kept painting."

I hope to see this and come back with more thoughts.

The Frick Website has links to reviews.

Art Daily

USA Today

Washington Post (link didn't work)

Washington Times

Pittsburgh Tribune Review

1934: A New Deal For Artists
January 30–April 25
The Frick Art Museum

No comments: