All Hail the WPA

SO WE’VE GOT NATIONAL HEALTH CARE, a step in the right direction. Now if only Obama would put under-employed artists to work, like FDR did back in the New Deal days.

The legacy of art produced by the enlightened Works Progress Administration, from Post Office murals to posters promoting everything from adult education to zoos, is nothing short of fantastic.

The work turned out under WPA auspices seemed to cohere into a graphic style of its own, melding social realism, Art Deco, and sometimes Cubism, with distinctive typography and brave color.

I was alerted to this online collection by garden blogger extraordinaire Margaret Roach, who was in turn made aware of it by Pam of Retro Renovation. No way am I going to miss the chance to get some of these stunning images onto my own blog for your delectation.

Go here to browse the entire collection of 908 posters by subject or keyword, and enjoy.

The By the People, For the People: Posters from the WPA, 1936-1943 collection consists of 908 boldly colored and graphically diverse original posters produced from 1936 to 1943 as part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal. Of the 2,000 WPA posters known to exist, the Library of Congress’s collection of more than 900 is the largest. These striking silkscreen, lithograph, and woodcut posters were designed to publicize health and safety programs; cultural programs including art exhibitions, theatrical, and musical performances; travel and tourism; educational programs; and community activities in seventeen states and the District of Columbia. The posters were made possible by one of the first U.S. Government programs to support the arts and were added to the Library’s holdings in the 1940s.

About cara

I blog (for fun) here at casaCARA, and write (for money) about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites.
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3 Responses to All Hail the WPA

  1. Priscilla says:

    Love all things WPA. Here in Freeport we have a wonderful WPA mural in our post office. Whenever I’m in a town with an old PO I pop in to see if they have a mural.
    A few years ago the Queens Museum of Art had an exhibit on NYC public pools. The show included lots of WPA posters .

  2. Ellen says:

    And here in sunny Long Beach, we too have a wonderful WPA mural in our post office. It may be hard to park there, but the reward is a beach scene that would make a great poster too! Thanks for sharing those beauties Cara! And how ’bout that nod to me in your recent post — “origami yellow!” Looking forward to seeing it all in person one day. I don’t have a crystal ball, but something tells me there will be coleus, lots of coleus, in your future! Happy Spring.

  3. BrooklynGreene says:

    Thanks for this one Cara. I agree!

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