Arts in the 1930’s: WPA
In 1929, the worst economic downturn in US history
occurred and it is known as the Great Depression. It lasted until the
year 1939.The Great Depression left many people without money and jobs, so a
work program called the Work Project Administration(WPA) was started to help
the unemployed. The WPA was started in
the year 1935 under U.S President Franklin D. Roosevelts New Deal. The program
went on for 8 years and gave work to as many as 8.5 million Americans. The
Works Projects Administration did not only help create public works projects
but sponsored many projects in the arts.
agency helped with managing a group of programs which was known as Federal Project
Number One. The program created jobs for thousands of writers, actors and many other different artists. President
Roosevelt wanted to put artist back to work to not only entertain, but to
inspire the rest of the country by creating a more optimistic view of life
during the very hard economic times. Many
forms of art were created at the time such as posters to motivate the public
and paintings in the public buildings. Monuments were made by sculptors, and
artists and musicians were paid to entertain the public. The first lady Eleanor
Roosevelt had a lot of influence over the establishment of Federal One, and she helped defend it against the people
who felt the arts were a waste of resources(“Works Progress Administration”).
world-known American painter named
Jackson Pollock worked for WPA’s Federal Art Project, another part of Federal One.
Mr. Jackson Pollock started working as a mural assistant and then he later
became an easel painter between the year 1930 and 1942. Jackson Pollock was a
very influential person during the abstract expressionism movement, after World
War II. The Worker’s Project Administration
also employed other exploratory artists such as Mark Rothko, Lee Krasner, and
William de Kooning(WPA).
The WPA is greatly admired today for the work it had offered to millions of Americans during
the hard times of the Great Depression. Because
of the WPA, we have many well-made roads, dams, schools, bridges and other
structures that we still use today.