Smithsonian American Art Museum Presents New Deal Paintings from the First Federally Funded Art Program in the United States
In 1934, Americans grappled with an economic situation that feels all too familiar today. Against the backdrop of the Great Depression, the U.S. government created the Public Works of Art Program?the first federal government program to support the arts nationally. A selection of paintings made with support from this program will be on view Feb. 27 through Jan. 3, 2010, in the exhibition "1934: A New Deal for Artists" at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. It will begin a three-year tour of the United States in 2010.
"As the Smithsonian American Art Museum prepares to open '1934: A New Deal for Artists,' the nation is engaged in a great discussion about how to restore confidence during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression," said Elizabeth Broun, The Margaret and Terry Stent Director at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. "One contentious issue is whether and how cultural initiatives should play a role in government recovery efforts. This exhibition, which focuses on the first U.S. government program ever to provide direct support for artists, is relevant to that discussion. The legacy of New Deal cultural programs seems indisputable today as we cherish and mine the resources these 'workers' left us."
"1934: A New Deal for Artists" celebrates the 75th anniversary of the Public Works of Art Program by drawing on the Smithsonian American Art Museum's unparalleled collection of vibrant paintings created for the program. The 56 paintings in the exhibition are a lasting visual record of America at a specific moment in time. George Gurney, deputy chief curator, organized the exhibition with Ann Prentice Wagner, curatorial associate.