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Shall the artist survive?
February 7, 2013 8:51 AM   Subscribe

In 1934, the Public Works of Art Project was born. It served to offer employment to many artists, and produced thousands of works of art, including 2000 posters and 1100 murals, primarily in post offices, across the United States.

WPA murals in New York, Riker's Island, Arkansas and Texas.
posted by frimble (15 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
(Previously)
posted by frimble at 8:56 AM on February 7, 2013


Elsewhere in New York, out on Governors Island.

The ones in Coit Tower in San Francisco were so stunning that I nearly forgot to go check out the view from the tower's top floor.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:57 AM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


My grandfather was principal of Evander Childs High School in the Bronx when these murals were painted.
posted by mareli at 8:59 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow, this is fantastic, thanks so much for sharing!

Given that the federal government paid for this work - especially the WPA Posters that are in the LOC - wouldn't those be public domain? (the LOC says no known restrictions on republication.)

I'd love to use some of these for other projects. Reading about things like this and the CCC makes me wish we had another Roosevelt around these days.
posted by EricGjerde at 9:54 AM on February 7, 2013


For the post office murals, at least, the USPS seems to be the rights holder, but does allow some use of the images.
posted by frimble at 10:05 AM on February 7, 2013


Publicly funding art is awesome. See the broader New Deal works of art and music section on Wikipedia.

I wish the US would still see the value in national funding for the arts, like Canada does with National Film Board of Canada.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:06 AM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


My high school had a WPA mural!
posted by griphus at 10:27 AM on February 7, 2013


The photographers needed to eat too. I met Russell Lee a number of times when he was teaching photography at the University of Texas. He is probably best known for his Pie Town pictures for the Farm Security Administration...
posted by jim in austin at 10:48 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


My High School had a few PWA projects as well. Funds from the PWA and the WPA helped rebuild the school after the 1933 Long Beach Earthquake.

You can find a map of many PWA projects at the New Deal Project Map. Maybe there's one near you?
posted by Arbac at 11:03 AM on February 7, 2013


EricGjerde, the Library of Congress has the biggest collection of WPA posters (900 of the 2000 or so produced), and says this about rights: "There are no known restrictions on posters made by the Work Projects Administration."

http://www.loc.gov/pictures/search/?st=grid&co=wpapos
posted by wenestvedt at 11:14 AM on February 7, 2013


There was one of these in my small-hometown post office. It was inspiring, and (along with the smell of Federal floor wax) encouraged me to misperceive the government (to which I attributed the painting). That became very confusing later on, until I was old enough to really understand what the Little Red Book was all about and why they murdered the IWW in its sleep.
posted by Twang at 11:41 AM on February 7, 2013


filthy light thief: "Publicly funding art is awesome. "

You know who else thought public funding of art was awesome?
posted by gertzedek at 2:08 PM on February 7, 2013


You know who else thought public funding of art was awesome?

uh, who.....?
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 5:15 PM on February 7, 2013


A lot of wonderful people and their noble governments, and a handful of unimportant megalomaniacs.

Fantastic post, thank you!
posted by Miko at 6:44 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


For the post office murals, at least, the USPS seems to be the rights holder, but does allow some use of the images.

The works were commissioned by the Federal Government, so they are in the public domain. The USPS may try to restrict access but that is not supported by any legitimate rights.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:51 PM on February 8, 2013


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