Saturday, October 27, 2012

Works Progress Administration

Moses Sawyer "Artists on WPA" 1935  Smithsonian American Art Museum
Moses Sawyer (1899-1974) was born in Russia but emigrated to the US with his family in 1912. He grew up in New York City with his twin brother Raphael and younger brother Isaac, who were also artists. Sawyer studied at Cooper Union and the National Academy of Design. During the 1930s and 40s his work focused on the effects of the great depression, depicting the underpriviliged and the unemployed, as well as artists who were lucky enough to find work through America's WPA Artist's Project.

Running from approximately 1935 to 1943 the WPA provided almost eight million jobs to skilled and unskilled workers alike, including artists. Interestingly, there is now a project for the U.S. government to reclaim the art it paid for during this time; much of it was warehoused, donated to museums or simply forgotten about during the exigencies of World War ll and afterwards, and only recently has there been an initiative to reclaim it!

Moses Sawyer was employed by the WPA to help design murals and supervise mural teams throughout the country. This painting was almost certainly done during such a project. Unfortunately I can find no identification for any of the artists shown in this painting.

Moses Sawyer's work is found in major museums across the country such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney and the Phillips CollectionHe was elected to the National Academy of Design in 1963 and in 1966 to the National Institute of Arts and Letters.

1 comment:

buccaneer said...

very cool post -- thanks for this!