Artists recorded a pivotal time in USA's history
Artists are usually among the first voices calling attention to the ills of society. During the Great Depression, their passion and creativity were revealed in a government-sponsored program — FDR's Works Progress Administration (WPA).
Artists Able To Work As Artists
President Roosevelt created the Public Works of Art Project in 1934. This program enabled artists to secure work and to maintain their dignity as artists.
In post offices, federal buildings, train stations, schools, and other public facilities
they created magnificent murals that captured the effects of a devastated
economy. The public's response was dramatic.
In 1935 the WPA expanded this program.
In its workshops across the country, countless
emerging artists found employment. They created prints whose powerful
themes of social realism — the impoverished farmer in America's
heartland and the plight of the urban poor — sent powerful messages to
the public. WPA prints could be seen in schools, libraries, and hospitals
in virtually every state.
Over time, many WPA muralists and printmakers, such as
Jacob Lawrence and Philip Guston,
became well known and were represented in galleries.
Market for WPA Prints
There was a renewed interest in WPA prints in the 1980s.
Lesser-known artists such as Harry Gottlieb, Mark Freeman, and Louis Lozowick were
discovered and collected — their work was affordable, just costing several hundred dollars.
Over time prints from the WPA period have risen
in value to several thousand dollars and higher. Because of production
costs during the Depression, print editions from this era were limited.
it's not surprising that they are now rare.
Chicago Worlds Fair" by Mark Freeman, 1933
Here are some tips when looking for WPA prints:
- Purchase a limited
edition print (a multiple original). Don't purchase a
reproduction. Reproductions have a low value, whereas prints will in time appreciate in value.
- Always ask for information about the artist.
This is a key component of your purchase.
And finally, do you like what you see?
certain that this is the print you must have for your collection.