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Assisting the secretary would be three undersecretaries, one each for science, art, and literature. The new depart- ment would be housed in a suitable building on Capitol Hill that would architecturally be keeping with "the beauty of art, the dignity of science, and the vision of literature. Admiral Christian J. Peo- ples, director of the Treasury Department's Procurement Division. Nearly everyone was strongly in support of the resolution. Borglum gave close to sixteen pages of purple prose in its favor.

Bruce and Peoples were more reticent in their support, and though supporting the resolution, firmly advocated keeping the Section within the Treasury Department. After the hearings, Sirovich's department never received any active support outside Congress — or in it for that mat- ter — and the resolution died in committee. The time was not quite right. The Section's program of adorning Federal buildings was functioning with great suc- cess as part of the Treasury Department. Little need was seen for Sirovich's Department. Though the Section was experienc- ing few problems, the entire WPA was facing financial cuts.

The time to establish the New Deal art projects as a permanent Federal presence seemed to have come. Thus, on January 5, , Sirovich again introduced a resolution H. For a second time, the resolution was sent to the Committee on Patents, and hearings were held in February Again Sirovich called on a long list of artists and celebrides for support of his proposed Department.

On August 16, , James M. Coffee D-WA introduced H. Works of art were confined to privately incorporated museums, difficult to visit, and to the completely inaccessible and private collections of wealthy patrons. Unlike Sirovich's Department of Science, Art, and Litera- ture, Coffee's bureau would be an independent bureau, and Introduction " not a cabinet-level position.

Additionally, all artists employed upon Federal projects. The Bureau shall immediately increase the number of artists em- ployed The Coffee bill, as originally written, embraced fully the WPA's arts projects and received support from various artists' unions. The Coffee-Pepper bill as it came to be known, was identical to Coffee's eariier bill in intent and purpose. A number of significant changes were made in the wording of the various sections to make the bill more palatable to the more conservative elements of the Congress and the arts community.

These changes, however, served to alienate the more radical sup- lii The New Deal Fine Arts Projects porters of the original Coffee bill who found the Coffee- Pepper version weaker and less supportive of artists. As in most cases, however, the middle way pleased no one, and the Coffee-Pepper bill seemed to be headed for the quiet demise that faces most legislation — death in committee.

But it did not quite turn out that way. A jury-rigged vehicle nailed together from the least objectional aspects of Si- rovich's original resolution and the Coffee-Pepper bill, H. Addidonal artists could be hired, but only with the authorization of the Secretary of the Interior. On June 15, , HJ. Congressman Sirovich delivered an impassioned and eloquent plea for the Bureau of Fine Arts: There exists in our country potentialities for the devel- opment of a great culture.

This is an important part of our national wealth, and it must be safeguarded and fostered. It is the function of democratic government to secure the benefits of education and cultural enlighten- ment for all the people. By so doing, it guarantees the perpetuation of democracy. Beethoven never wrote his Moonlight Sonata until he was deaf. Mozart struggled through poverty to render his immortal masterpieces. Subsidized art is no art at all. Anyone who has ever graduated even from a grade school knows this. Finally, it was moved that the resolution be tabled, effectively killing it.

When the vote was tallied, there were in favor of tabling it and 35 against. Sirovich's plans, as well as those of Congressman Coffee and Senator Pepper, had come to naught. On the same day that Sirovich intro- duced H. Casque D-SC would intro- duce H. McGranery's Division of liv The New Deal Fine Arts Projects Fine Arts, would, be responsible for collecting as in Casque's bill statistics, data, and information, and conduct surveys and studies, relating to education in the fine arts, including music, art, and dramatic art and speech, and to disseminate such information relating thereto as will promote education in the fine arts.

Neither bill received any serious attention and both died in Committee. Though this would be Allard Casque's only entry in the arts bill derby, McCranery would try three more times with slightly modified versions of his bill. On February 3, , Sirovich introduced H. The resolu- tion was sent to the Committee on Patents, but Sirovich's death on December 17, , stopped all action on the resolution and it never left committee.

Senator Pepper introduced S. The proposed Bureau would reside in the Federal Security Agency and "establish and maintain a fine-arts program for the benefit of the people of the United States. Like his first bill, none of these ever left committee. In the heated atmosphere of , when the very foundations of the New Deal were beginning to be chal- lenged, any attempt to make permanent the projects that were seen by many to be the essence of New Deal "boondog- gling" were sure to be met by failure.

Congressman Sirovich, from New York City and himself a playwright, failed to realize that his fellow congressmen and many citizens could not see that cultural subsidies were as important as farm subsidies. Likewise, Congressman Coffee and Senator Pepper saw the arts ennobling the common man while at the same time glorifying the artist.

It must have been quite a disappoint- ment to find the common man did not want to be ennobled and the art world was ungrateful. With the defeat of the Fine Arts legislation of , the path to the eventual dissolution of the New Deal art projects was made easier and an important chapter in their history closed.

This same idea was regularly used to defend and expand the projects. Art critics had regularly and vigor- ously debated the notion of an "American" art since the turn of the century.

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Whether such a thing even existed, how best to nourish and promote it, or if it was even worth encourag- ing were popular topics in the art press. Further controversy was certain to ensue when the New Deal art projects were suddenly thrust into this already heated environment, pro- Ivi The New Deal Fine Arts Projects jects whose stated purpose was the glorification and funding of American art. Two particular aspects of American art, one societal and the other aesthetic, shaped the artistic production of New Deal artists. Though the Armory Show of had introduced Ameri- cans to "Modern" and "Abstract" art, by the s, a new movement, the American Scene, had come to dominate American art.

A precise definition of "American Scene" does not seem possible. To some critics the term covers only the idyllic rural works of artists like John Steuart Curry, Grant Wood, and other artists frequently labeled Regionalists. The fact that artists in the two groups often hated one another and carried on heated public debates on the merits of their own and the flaws of their opponent's works matters litde to Baignell. He emphasizes in such shared notions as the rejection of elitist attitudes toward art and the portrayal of the common man in heroic settings.

The Regional- ists were mosdy from the Midwest and utilized a "comfed iconography and an illustrative style. Coming from or working in an almost exclusively urban environment, Social Realists were sur- rounded by the despair of the urban poor, the jobless millions, and bread lines. Their work was affected by the Socialist and Communist ideas of left-wing thinkers of the time and inspired by the work of the modem Mexican mural painters Jose Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Diego Rivera who sought to bring depictions of the underclass into their art.

Burgoyne Diller head of the New York City mural project , Arshile Gorky, and Stuart Davis were amongst the few major abstract painters to con- tinue their work in the face of Regionalism and Social Realism. By the final years of the projects, influence of both the Regionalists and the Social Realists had waned while that of exiled European artists like Andre Breton, Max Ernst, and Yves Tanguy gave a more international outlook to the Ameri- can art world and paved the way for the establishment of New York City as the post-war capital of the art world.

Radical artists had been joining the Communist Party for years and forming their own left-wing organizations since the early s. Unemployed artists in New York City began organizing in the early days of the New Deal and after a number of name changes, the Artists' Union was formed in February Art Front, had an active love-hate relationship with the New Deal art projects. At the same time they railed against real and exaggerated deficiencies and slights.

With the threat of war growing in Europe by the late s, the activities of the Artists' Union and other organizations like the American Artists' Congress or publications like the New Masses were unable to hold the attention of either the public or those in power. Changes of a radical nature were soon coming to the New Deal art projects, but they were not the radical changes many of the artist had hoped and fought for.

It appeared that an active support for the arts would become a continuing, if not permanent, aspect of the Federal government. The defeat of the various Federal Arts Bureau bills of the previous year meant that the projects of Federal One would continue on a year-to-year, dollar-to-dollar basis.

With no permanent base of support, William I. Sirovich and Claude Pepper would again introduce bills to make the art projects permanent, but the bills would go no- where. With Sirovich's death in December , support for the existing art projects, not to mention the hope for a permanent fine arts project, lost a major voice on Capitol Hill. In , FDR sought to solidify these changes with a massive and radical reorgani- zation of the Federal bureaucracy. With his landslide victory in the election behind him, FDR thought he could get what he wanted.

It was not to be, and a number of events, including the "Roosevelt Recession," FDR's Supreme Court-packing scheme, and vague fears in Congress of the President's growing power served to defeat the plan. On April 3, , however, a far less dramatic series of changes known as the Reorganization Plan of took effect, with a major impact on the arts projects of the Federal government.

The most drastic changes occurred to the WPA. No longer an independent agency, it was now just one of many agencies within the FWA. The provision of the Emergency Relief Act of man- dating local sponsorship of the arts projects was thought by many to be the death knell for the three remaining projects of Federal One. Though all would survive, they would be in much changed circumstances. Again, a name change reflected the changes. Artists continued to be employed; in some cases total employment actually rose. Throughout the coimtry murals continued to be painted, sculptures created, and work on the LAD continued.

Following the convention established by Francis V. In later interviews with artists who served before and after the reorganization, the sense that things had changed for the worse was a frequently expressed sentiment. Edward Bruce had spent much of in trying to have the Section made an independent agency housed in a proposed new Smithsonian Gallery of Art. When the proposed Smith- sonian Gallery of Art became lost in the gathering war clouds, the Section had no choice but to become part of the FWA.

Competitions continued to be organized; murals continued to be commis- sioned and painted in Federal buildings and post offices. The real survival of the Section, however, depended on the notion of patronage.

When the Section was located in the Treasury Department, Edward Bruce could count on the artistic and political patronage of both the Treasury Secre- tary Henry Morgan thau and his wife, as well as the President. John M. Carmody, administrator of the FWA, lacked Morgan- thau's interest in art, and FDR, his time increasingly occu- pied by events in Europe, could find less and less time for his old friend Bruce's project. World War II would eventually terminate both pro- jects. With the entiy ol the United States in late , cuts to both relief and art programs accelerated. At the same time, the New Deal art projects tried to find themselves a new niche in a war environment.

Yet none of these attempts would stave off the fuiai termination of either project. By some error, hundreds of canvases stored in a warehouse in New Jersey were declared to be surplus government property and sold by the pound to a junk dealer. Among the artists included in the junk sale were Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollack.


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Edward Bruce continued to fight for the Section, but it was a hopeless cause. He suffered a heart attack in and on January 27, , died. With him died the Section of Fine Arts. Nothing is to be gained by the separate consideration of these various programs. It is safe, I believe, to prophesy that retrospectively they will be envisaged by art histori- ans as one and the same thing. The use of the mimeograph freed the various agencies of the New Deal art projects from using precious funds for printing and allowed newsletters, exhibi- tion catalogs, technical circulars, summary reports, and a host of other "printed" material to flow from the offices of art project administrators and participants in a seemingly unrelenting — and untraceable — stream.

Since many of these documents were not considered "official" government documents, Publications prepared by this project [the Federal Art Project — though the same may be said for the Treasury Department projects] during the period of this catalog have been issued for the use of regional offices or have been sponsored and published by agencies other then Federal and therefore are not considered Government publications and are not entered in the 74th Document catalog.

In , for example, total expenditures for all the art programs of the WPA accounted for only 0. Thus, when seeking information on the projects in such documents as Congressional hearings, agency budgets, and legislation, the art projects are often afforded only a single line, or at most a paragraph or two.

The AAA has microfilmed the Introduction Ixv relevant materials in the collections of the National Archives and Records Agency and has collected the personal papers and documents of artists and administrators of the projects. The collections thus assembled by the AAA are without a doubt the starting point for any in-depth research on the New Deal Art Projects.

With the end of the projects, coverage naturally decreased. Throughout the s and early s, the projects are rarely mentioned in an art world concentrating on the latest trend, Abstract Expressionism. What coverage there is of the projects tends to dwell on the Index of American Design, particularly after the publication of Edwin O. Christensen's Index of American Design in In , "The U. This show, organized by Dorothy C. O'Connor of the University of Mary- land organized "Federal Art Patronage to ," at the university's art gallery.

This, the first large-scale exhibition of New Deal art in nearly a quarter century, proved to be a turning point. Soon, dissertations, thesis, monographs, articles, and exhi- bitions on the New Deal art projects were pouring forth from the nation's universities and museums. Much of the early work on the projects concentrated on simply explaining what the projects were and what they did.

Detailed explications of the bureaucracy of the projects were given and lists of artists and works compiled. Ixvi The New Deal Fine Arts Projects This first generation of New Deal art project scholars, though interested in the art itself, were most often con- cerned with simply telling the public that it did exist. By the early s, however, a second generation of scholars began to look at New Deal art and ask what it meant. With this latest scholarly advance. New Deal art now moves out of the realm of mere curiosity and can join the main- stream of American art.

Roosevelt was inaugurated. In his memorable inaugural address March 4, , Roosevelt told Americans that a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence, and an equally great number toil with little return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achieve- ment, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.

In comparison to the expen- ditures made in other relief efforts this was a bargain.


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  6. Perhaps no Michelangelos or da Vincis were discovered by the New Deal art projects. No Sistine ceilings were created to adorn the Federal buildings in Washington or the thousands of post offices and courthouses across Amer- ica. Still, established and respected artists were given publicly visible commissions by the Federal government via the Section. In that time many thousands of artists were employed, many tens of thousands of works were created, a number of which even the most virulent critic must admit to be, if not the greatest expression of the creative spirit, at least a document of the creative spirit of American art at a particular time in the nation's history.

    May the artist live? For a brief time, the Federal govern- ment said yes and backed that affirmative answer with Fed- eral dollars for the good of the artists and the enjoyment of the American people. References Allyn, Nancy Elizabeth. Defining American Design. A History of the Index of American Design, MA Thesis, University of Maryland, Ames, Kenneth L. Baigell, Matthew. The American Scene: American Painting of the 's. Praeger: New York, Biddle, George. An American Artist's Story. Little, Brown, and Co. Cahill, Holger.

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    The Reminiscences of Holger Cahill. Christensen, Erwin O. The Index of American Design. Macmillan: New York, Coffee, John M. Dows, Olin. A Memoir by Olin Dows. University of Wisconsin Press: Madison, [? Federal Art Project. Federal Art Project Manual. Federal Art Project: Washington, FAP: Washington, April, b. Federally Sponsored Community Art Centers. FAP: Washington, A Preview of the Future.

    FAP: New York, a. Federal Art Project: Washing- ton, [? Report on Art Projects. New Jersey. Summary of Activities and Accomplishments. New- ark, [? Casque, Allard H. Marling, Karal Ann. Scarecrow Press: Metu- chen, NJ, McDonald, William Francis. Ohio State University Press: Columbus, McGranery, James P. Introduction Ixix McKinzie, Richard.

    The New Deal for Artists. McMahon, Audrey. Monroe, Gerald M. The Artists' Union of New York. New York University, Morris, Richard B. Great Presidential Decisions. Fawcett: New York, Morsell, Mary. O'Connor, Francis V.

    Ellen S. Woodward: New Deal Advocate for Women

    Art for the Millions. New York Graphic Society, Ltd. Pepper, Claude D. Public Works of Art Project. Government Printing Office: Washington, Sirovich, William I. This is Mural America for Rural Americans. Tinkham, Sandra Shaffer, ed. US Congress. House of Representatives. Government Printing Office: Washington, March 18, US Superintendent of Documents.

    Catalog of the Public Documents of the 74th Congress. White, John Franklin, ed. Art in Action. American Art Centers and the New Deal. Scarecrow Press: Metuchen, NJ, Whiting, Philippa. Whitney Museum of American Art. Treasury Department Art Projects. Sculpture and Paintings for Federal Buildings.

    Notes 1. McMahon , pp. McMahon , p. Biddle , p. McDonald , p. Art Neivs May 5, 19S4 , p. Public Works of Art Project , p. Whitney Museum of American Art , introduction. Whiting , p. McKinzie , p. Dows ? Federal Art Project , p. McDonald, p.

    Cahill , ff. Federal Art Project , pp. McDonald , pp. New Jersey ? Federal Art Project ? Introduction Ixxi O'Connor , p. Federal Art Project a , p. Federal Art Project b , p. Christensen , p. Art Digest 12 July , p. Christensen , pp. Allyn ,p. Tinkham , p. Ames , pp. White , p. House of Representatives , p. Congressional Record June 15, , p. Baignell, p.

    Marling, p. McKinzie, pp. Monroe, pp. Newsweek March 6, , pp. US Superintendent of Documents, p. Works Progress Administration, p. Morris, pp. Written before PWAP began. Call for relief efforts to be expanded to include artists. Includes a full outline of the basic premises of the art project. Includes partial text of the announcement. HariT L. Discusses the setting up of regional committees and includes comments by a number of people on the pros and cons of government involvement in the arts.

    Announcement of the creation of the PWAP; the appoint- ment of Juliana Force as New York director; and lists the other regional committees being formed. Editorial cautiously endorsing the PWAP. Satiric ardcle; Beer "converses" with a woman from Kansas on the idea of the PWAP, the woman feels artists should paint boxcars so people everywhere could really see the art they create.

    Annotated Bibliography 3 "Government and art. Editorial on the PWAP; fears the effects of throwing large sums of money at artists without a good plan; feels federal money should be spent on adornment of public buildings. Announcement of PWAP plans and how some have found that the administrators chosen are too biased towards mod- ern art. Brief note on the creation of the PWAP; how it will work; the formation of the regional committees; and a comment by Forbes Watson.

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    Federal Emergency Relief Administration. Press Release no. Mimeo- graphed, issued December 11, Executive Order No. November 9, Announcement of the formation of the PWAP; lists members of the advisory committee. Watson defends the early work of the PWAP and makes the claim that though geniuses may not be created by the truckload, a few great works of art will come from the project; includes a map of the PWAP regions. An excellent article. Forbes Watson recounts the foundation of the PWAP and his association with it; explains that it is wonderful to bring art to Annotated Bibliography 5 the people.

    The Public Works of Art Project takes the broader point of view. It believes that the artist is not the rare blossom that blooms once in a hundred years and it also believes that the life of the spirit may quite well be carried on by men whose names will not go down permanently in history," p. Summary of early PWAP work. Joseph A. Danysh of the San Francisco Argonaut discusses how the art projects are to employ artists and not to simply put them on relief.

    Includes a list of the official personnel non-artists in the sixteen regions of the project. Open letter signed by many artists and headed by Leon Kroll asking the art world to supplement the CWA project with additional funds. Editorial praising the formation of the PWAP: "In setting up the organization through which its plan of relief for unem- ployed artists is to be carried out, the administration has acted with an intelligence unusual in governmental dealings with art and artists.

    Note on the creation of the PWAP. Perhaps the latter with a few regular meals in prospect will see something in the American scene other than jazzmania,' unflattering likenesses of sub- way crowds already sad enough, barren-looking farms and distorted women. Summary of Danysh's article in the San Francisco Argonaut.

    A "creative" writing piece in dialogue form where Danysh criticizes the haste in which artists and projects were chosen in the CWA project. Mentions the Mexican government's art project. List of the regional directors names by the PWAP. Editorial on the complaints of artists who were not selected in the first round of PWAP projects.

    Description of the protests by the Unemployed Artists' Association.

    The Women’s Division

    Comments by Juliana R. Force, chairman of the New York Regional Committee. Illusuated with a photograph of the officers gathered around the work. Chester G. Robinson of Arkansas.

    Bruce describes the PWAP and reads letters from artists on the project praising what it has done for them. Bruce concludes: "If we can, through this project, develop the love and the wish for beauty, an intolerance for the ugliness in our lives and our surroundings, a demand for slum clearance, a hatred of the utter drabness of the average city and village in this country, especially in its outskirts, we may be building better than we know, not only spiritually but materially. It may form the stimulus and create a demand for an America beautiful, and such a demand is what everyone is seeking to lift us out of the depression," p.

    Letter to the editor; Weaver, founder of Art Interests, the Artists' Cooperative, feels the public should be more in- Annotated Bibliography 9 volved in choosing artists for PWAP; this will increase their interest in the art done. Speculation over results. Davidson comments on fears about an 'official art': "Official art! What was Greece, what was Egypt, what was India? Wasn't that official art?

    Did it matter to the artists of India that Buddha had to be pictured with definite, immuta- ble gestures? Photographs of Eleanor Roosevelt, Law- rence W. General article on government patronage of the arts, praises the formation of the PWAP. Gives a good background sketch as to the artistic reasons the PWAP was created. Claims a bright future for the project. Annotated Bibliography 11 Bruce, Edward. A brief history of the inception of the PWAP; Bruce praises the quality of work done under PWAP and sees it as invigorat- ing local talent and living proof of the wonders that the democratic patronage of art can accomplish.

    Force claims PWAP has increased art appreciation in the general public. Includes a partial list of artists. Editorial critical of the mixing of relief and art in the PWAP; still, cautiously hopeful for the future. Watrous, President, National Academy of Design; plus remarks from other societies too loosely organized to make a joint statement. Brief note on the formation of the PWAP. Thirty-plus artists, all from Maryland, repre- sented. Explanation of how the PWAP has used artists for educa- tional purposes; some examples of educational projects.

    Entry in exhibition schedule noting the exhibition, "Public Works of Art Project Exhibition" would appear at the mu- seum April , Watson makes a call to private industry to stay a factor in the art world. Editorial stating that 50, people claim to be artists but only 1, to 2, deserve the name.

    Since the PWAP cannot employ them all, those dissatisfied "artists" are ruining it for the real artists. Kraemer, Jonas Lie, Raymond W. Annotated Bibliography 15 "Let us judge the results. Editorial apologizing for the strident tones of earlier See editorial, "Tragedy. Includes some comments, mostly favor- able, from visitors. Essay by Watson on the nature of the PWAP, feeling that it should not be a simple relief project, but rather a project to raise the dignity of the American artist.

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    Woodward was especially anxious that women in her home state have access to work relief jobs. Almost every kind of project that was developed to put women to work existed in Mississippi. One of them was the Library Project. By the lunch program fed an average of 46, children every school day. Needy families benefited from the clothing, household goods, and mattresses that were made on the Clothing and Production Projects.

    In Mississippi, as elsewhere, more women were put to work on Sewing Projects than in any other endeavor. By WPA sewing rooms had produced over 4,, garments for distribution to needy families in the state. Women received work relief jobs on many other kinds of projects. They brought parks and recreation programs to many towns that had never had them. Hattiesburg had the only free health clinic for children in the state. WPA women sponsored nursery schools, principally for children of women at work on other work projects.

    In more than a thousand women were employed as housekeepers to serve relief families where illness or other emergencies called for household assistance. Three historical projects that employed men and women left a legacy of inestimable value: The WPA workers wrote separate histories of every county in the state; they surveyed and inventoried historical records; and they located federal archival material scattered about the state.

    Mississippi did not have a Theatre Project, but it had the other three. The only racially integrated professional projects was the Federal Music Project that hired black music teachers. Some women played in the Jackson Orchestra that gave concerts from to Under Miss Jerome Sage, the Music Project workers offered free music lessons to adults and children and won acclaim as one of the exemplary projects in the nation.

    It operated in forty counties and reached 69, students in Numerous children and adults received free art lessons during the life of the projects, directed in Mississippi first by Delta artist Caroline Compton and then by the sculptor Leon Koury. The Federal Art Project, in particular, brought art education and art exhibits to basically rural counties. The project hired a reporter and photographer named Eudora Welty. The number of women employed on WPA jobs fluctuated and pay scales were based on the type of work. A report for July , however, can be cited.