Its goal was to provide one paid job for all families who suffered long term unemployment, and for the years 1935 through 1943 the WPA provided almost 8 million jobs.
One of the small projects was one called the FEDERAL PROJECT NUMBER ONE. This group consisted of five areas of employment: 1) the Federal Art Project, 2) the Federal Music Project, 3) the Federal Theatre Project, 4) the Federal Writer's Project and 5) the Historical Records Survey.
The peak employment year - 1936 - over 5,300 artists were working on over 100,000 easel paintings, 17,700 sculptures, 11,200 print designs and 2,500 murals. In addition the Farm Security Administration hired photographers (among them Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans) to document life in rural areas across the country. They produced 122,000 b&w negatives, 66,000 b&w prints and 650 color transparencies.*
|Allie Mae Burroughs by Evans|
|"Migrant Mother" (Florence Owens Thompson) by Lange|
Evans and Lange produced two of the most iconic images of the Depression "Allie Mae Burroughs" and "Migrant Mother."
Any list of artists employed by the Federal Art Project features such recognizable names as Thomas Hart Benton, Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky, Philip Guston, Ferdinand Leger, Louise Nevelson, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, John Sloan and Grant Wood.
|Thomas Hart Benton, "Social History of the State of Missouri" (1936) located at the Missouri State Capital|
|John Sloan "Sixth Avenue and Fourteenth Street (1934)|
My interest is centered on the wonderful posters created for the various sections of the Federal Art Project encompassing an eclectic range of subjects. Printmaking was revived during this era by FAP artists, and the development of different techniques (particularly silkscreen) enabled mass production of these posters.
These posters reflected a variety of topics tackled by the FAP:
The Nation's System of Parks and Recreation
a Variety of Health Issues Facing Americans
Part of the FAP was the Art Teaching Division. Free art classes were offered at community centers all across the Nation, and frequent exhibitions were held.
And a wide variety of other topics
The General Services Administration (GSA) is now responsible for all of the artwork produced by the WPA and the Federal Art Project. They are trying to recover artwork from this era, and have produced a short documentary "Returning America's Art to America." The link to the film:
(statistics gleaned from various Wikipedia articles)