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Women, Art and the New Deal by
Publication Date: 2015-12-21
In 1935, the United States Congress began employing large numbers of American artists through the Works Progress Administration--fiction writers, photographers, poster artists, dramatists, painters, sculptors, muralists, wood carvers, composers and choreographers, as well as journalists, historians and researchers. Secretary of Commerce and supervisor of the WPA Harry Hopkins hailed it a "renascence of the arts, if we can call it a rebirth when it has no precedent in our history." Women were eminently involved, creating a wide variety of art and craft, interweaving their own stories with those of other women whose lives might not otherwise have received attention. This book surveys the thousands of women artists who worked for the U.S. government, the historical and social worlds they described and the collaborative depiction of womanhood they created at a pivotal moment in American history.
Imagery of Lynching by
Publication Date: 2004-09-16
Outside of the classroom and scholarly publications, lynching has long been a taboo subject. Nice people, it is felt, do not talk about it, and they certainly do not look at images representing the atrocity. In Imagery of Lynching, Dora Apel contests this adopted stance of ignorance. Through a careful and compelling analysis of over one hundred representations of lynching, she shows how the visual documentation of such crimes can be a central vehicle for both constructing and challenging racial hierarchies. She examines how lynching was often orchestrated explicitly for the camera and how these images circulated on postcards, but also how they eventually were appropriated by antilynching forces and artists from the 1930s to the present. She further investigates how photographs were used to construct ideologies of "whiteness" and "blackness," the role that gender played in these visual representations, and how interracial desire became part of the imagery.
The Federal Art Project and the Creation of Middlebrow Culture by
Publication Date: 2009
This intellectual history chronicles the processes of compromise and negotiation between high and low art, federal and local interests, and the Progressive Era and New Deal. Victoria Grieve examines how intellectual trends in the early twentieth century combined with government forces and structures of the New Deal's Federal Art Project to redefine American taste in the visual arts. Representing more than a response to the emergency of the Great Depression, the Federal Art Project was rooted in Progressive Era cultural theories, the modernist search for a usable past, and developments in the commercial art world in the early decades of the twentieth century. In their desire to create an art for the "common man," FAP artists and administrators used the power of the federal government to disseminate a specific view of American culture, one that combined ideals of uplift with those of accessibility: a middlebrow visual culture.
To Ask for an Equal Chance by
Publication Date: 2010
The Great Depression hit Americans hard, but none harder than African Americans and the working poor. To Ask for an Equal Chance explores black experiences during this period and the intertwined challenges posed by race and class. "Last hired, first fired," black workers lost their jobs at twice the rate of whites, and faced greater obstacles in their search for economic security. Black workers, who were generally urban newcomers, impoverished and lacking industrial skills, were already at a disadvantage. These difficulties were intensified by an overt, and in the South legally entrenched, system of racial segregation and discrimination. New federal programs offered hope as they redefined government's responsibility for its citizens, but local implementation often proved racially discriminatory. As Cheryl Lynn Greenberg makes clear, African Americans were not passive victims of economic catastrophe or white racism; they responded to such challenges in a variety of political, social, and communal ways. The book explores both the external realities facing African Americans and individual and communal responses to them. While experiences varied depending on many factors including class, location, gender and community size, there are also unifying and overarching realities that applied universally.
Labor's Canvas by
Publication Date: 2008
At an unprecedented and probably unique American moment, laboring people were indivisible from the art of the 1930s. By far the most recognizable New Deal art employed an endless frieze of white or racially ambiguous machine proletarians, from solo drillers to identical assembly line toilers. Even today such paintings, particularly those with work themes, are almost instantly recognizable. Happening on a Depression-era picture, one can see from a distance the often simplified figures, the intense or bold colors, the frozen motion or flattened perspective, and the uniformity of laboring bodies within an often naive realism or naturalism of treatment. In a kind of Social Realist dance, the FAP's imagined drillers, haulers, construction workers, welders, miners, and steel mill workers make up a rugged industrial army. In an unusual synthesis of art and working-class history, Labor's Canvas argues that however simplified this golden age of American worker art appears from a post-modern perspective, The New Deal's Federal Art Project (FAP), under the aegis of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), revealed important tensions. Artists saw themselves as cultural workers who had much in common with the blue-collar workforce. Yet they struggled to reconcile social protest and aesthetic distance. Their canvases, prints, and drawings registered attitudes toward laborers as bodies without minds often shared by the wider culture. In choosing a visual language to reconnect workers to the larger society, they tried to tell the worker from the work with varying success. Drawing on a wealth of social documents and visual narratives, Labor's Canvas engages in a bold revisionism. Hapke examines how FAP iconography both chronicles and reframes working-class history.
Publication Date: 2004
Arguing that the sweatshop is as American as apple pie, Laura Hapke surveys over a century and a half of the language, verbal and pictorial, in which the sweatshop has been imagined and its stories told. Not seeking a formal definition of the sort that policymakers are concerned with, nor intending to provide a strict historical chronology, this unique book shows, rather, how the "real" sweatshop has become intertwined with the "invented" sweatshop of our national imagination, and how this mixture of rhetoric and myth has endowed American sweatshops with rich and complex cultural meaning. Hapke uncovers a wide variety of tales and images that writers, artists, social scientists, reformers, and workers themselves have told about "the shop." Adding an important perspective to historical and economic approaches, Sweatshop draws on sources from antebellum journalism, Progressive era surveys, modern movies, and anti-sweatshop websites. Illustrated chapters detail how the shop has been a facilitator of assimilation, a promoter of upward mobility, the epitome of exploitation, a site of ethnic memory, a venue for political protest, and an expression of twentieth-century managerial narratives.
Artists on the Left by
Publication Date: 2002
This remarkable book is the first to examine in abundant detail the relation between visual artists and the American Communist movement during the twentieth century. Andrew Hemingway charts the rise and decline of the Communist Party's influence on art in the United States from the Party's dramatic rise in prestige during the Great Depression to its effective demise in the 1950s. Offering a full account of how left-wing artists responded to the Party's various policy shifts over these years, Hemingway shows that the Communist Party exerted a powerful force in American culture, even after the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939. The author scrutinizes the works of an array of leftist artists, many of great interest but largely forgotten today. He demonstrates that American art produced within the Communist Party's orbit was far more diverse and had a much more complex relationship with modernism than has been previously understood. Refusing to march in lockstep to Party requirements, artists and critics in and around the Party accepted no single aesthetic line and engaged in heated debates. Hemingway offers radical new interpretations of some familiar works, reassesses the role of the John Reed Clubs and the work of artists in the federal art programs, and revises accepted thinking about art in the United States during the Cold War. In short, he offers a distinguished and original political history that recovers the rich artistic and intellectual legacy of the American left.
Paths to the Press by
Publication Date: 2006
In 1910, Bertha Jaques co-founded the Chicago Society of Etchers and helped launch a revival of American fine art printmaking. In the decades following, women artists produced some of the most compelling images in U.S. printmaking history and helped advance the medium technically and stylistically. Paths to the Press examines American women artists' contributions to printmaking in the U.S. during the early to mid twentieth century. It features work by internationally and nationally recognized figures such as Isabel Bishop, Louise Nevelson, and Elizabeth Catlett; well-known regional figures such as Chicago artist Bertha Jaques, New Mexico artist Gener Kloss, and Louisiana artist Caroline Durieux; and relatively unknown printmakers such as Chicago artist Fritzi Brod, San Franciscan Pele deLappe, and Texan Mary Bonner. The contributors include David Acton, Nancy E. Green, Melanie Herzog, Helen Langa, Bill North, Mark Pascale, and Mark B. Pohlad.
In the Eye of the Storm by
Publication Date: 2003
Seventy-one paintings, drawings, and prints from the private collection of Philip J. and Suzanne Schiller represent a wealth of styles and subject matter and range from social realism to magic realism and social surrealism. The author offers a broad definition of social commentary art, examining wor
Radical Art by
Publication Date: 2004
During the 1930s, the era of the Depression and the New Deal, American artists transformed printmaking into one of the decade's most exciting forms of art. As a cheap, vital, and egalitarian means of artistic expression, prints came close to realizing the ideal of creating "art for the millions." In this dynamic book, Helen Langa shows how innovative printmakers developed "social viewpoint" works that focused on contemporary issues of labor justice, antiracism, and antifascist activism. Discussing artists such as Aaron Douglas, Mabel Dwight, Boris Gorelick, Harry Gottlieb, Elizabeth Olds, Harry Sternberg, Joseph Vogel, and Hale Woodruff, Langa explains how they developed new types of meaningful content, worked in modern, yet accessible, styles, invented new technical processes, and sought fresh strategies for distributing their work to the public. Many, but not all, of the artists she considers worked for the Federal Art Project at the Graphic Arts Division workshop; each struggled to resolve the conflicting goals of reaching a mass audience while also critiquing social injustice and promoting radical idealism.
Decades of Discontent by
Publication Date: 1983
This first-class collection of historical essays revises and rejects the view that American women after suffrage rejected feminism and sank into political apathy and unconsciousness. Rather, the authors point out the limitations of the view of suffrage as either solving all women's problems or as a disappointment and failure for the women's movement. The problems and choices facing women in these decades emerge in part from the very diversity of women's experiences and interests portrayed to such effect in the rest of this volume.
The Left Front: Radical Art in the “Red Decade,” 1929–1940 by
Publication Date: 2015
Catalog of an exhibition held January 13-April 4, 2015 at Grey Art Gallery, New York University.
"Organized by the Mary and Leigh Block Museum at Northwestern University, and co-curated by John Murphy and Jill Bugajski"--Page 1.
The WPA: Creating Jobs and Hope in the Great Depression by
Publication Date: 2016
Established in 1935 in the midst of the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) was one of the most ambitious federal jobs programs ever created in the U.S. At its peak, the program provided work for almost 3.5 million Americans, employing more than 8 million people across its eight-year history in projects ranging from constructing public buildings and roads to collecting oral histories and painting murals. The story of the WPA provides a perfect entry point into the history of the Great Depression, the New Deal, and the early years of World War II, while its example remains relevant today as the debate over government's role in the economy continues. In this concise narrative, supplemented by primary documents and an engaging companion website, Sandra Opdycke explains the national crisis from which the WPA emerged, traces the program's history, and explores what it tells us about American society in the 1930s and 1940s. Covering central themes including the politics, race, class, gender, and the coming of World War II, The WPA: Creating Jobs During the Great Depression introduces readers to a key period of crisis and change in U.S. history.
Holding Their Own by
Publication Date: 1982
"Holding Their Own provides a lively overview of the often unrecognized contributions and experiences of American women during the Depression. Harvard historian Susan Ware analyzes the survival of feminism, the impact of popular culture, and the changing role of women at home and at work, and considers the achievements of such extraordinary women as Amelia Earhart, Lillian Hellman, Clare Boothe and Emma Goldman in the context of their time."--Book cover.