365 Days of Art: August 29 – The Federal Art Project of the WPA is Created

Works Progress Administration poster from 1936

August 29, 1935

The Federal Art Project (FAP) is established as part of the Works Progress Administration and FDR’s New Deal. Like all WPA programs, its goal is to create jobs. Most of the jobs involved creating public art for government buildings like schools, libraries, airports and the like. One of the great features is that the program doesn’t favor representation over abstraction, but encourages all styles. Before it ends on June 30, 1943 it employs artists such as:

Berenice Abbott
William Baziotes
Romare Bearden
Thomas Hart Benton
Stuart Davis
Willem de Kooning
Arshile Gorky
Adolph Gottlieb
Philip Guston
Marsden Hartley
Vanessa Helder
Lee Krasner
Yasuo Kuniyoshi
Jacob Lawrence
Fernand Léger
John Marin
Louise Nevelson
Jackson Pollock
Ad Reinhardt
Mark Rothko
Augusta Savage
Ben Shahn
John Sloan
Raphael Soyer
Mark Tobey
Grant Wood

This isn’t a complete list, just some of the heavy hitters. That’s a Who’s Who of 20th Century Art, for sure.