I was a little derailed and wanted to update you all on the last 3 sessions at Bower’s with Kristin Mihaylovich.
On 2/25, we studied Social Realism, Regionalism and the 1930’s and into WWII. Two major events mark this era and that is the stock market crash in October of 1929 and the Dust Bowl. People are questioning if democracy and capitalism is still a good way to continue. The country starts to look at Socialism, Communism and Russia. One quarter of the population is unemployed.
The government decides to provide artists with work as a form of economic rehabilitation. The Federal Art Project and the Works Progress Administration (WPA) begin to commission murals and sponsor artists. There is an inclination towards art in figurative context. Art is seen as part of the revival to benefit the whole nation. There is a collaborative nature to this resurgence and a new dedication to the arts. Murals of children at play in hospitals for example, are painted right on the inside halls.
Major political or social events are characterized such as in Ben Shahn’s The Passion of Saco and Venzetti in 1932. Shahn is a storyteller and is drawn to social injustices and paints 23 works on the same subject of the plight of the Italian American immigrants who were put to death (after 2 trials- same judge though) even though the people believed they were innocent and there was no conclusive evidence. Prohibition was divided along gender lines and he impresses that fact in 1934 when he paints Women’s Christian Temperance Union Parade and Parade for Repeal (where men are marching).
……Tomorrow – I will continue with Dorothea Lange and Thomas Hart Benton……and this fascinating era!