Works Progress Administration or the WPA (renamed Work Projects Administration in 1939) was an amazing relief program. Established in 1935 as part of the New Deal by the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the WPA was an ambitious federal jobs program created to provide blue collar and white collar jobs for the unemployed during the Great Depression. Work ranged from road construction to theatrical productions to research for the Library of Congress and the program employed millions of individuals. Artists such as Milton Avery, Stuart Davis, Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock were just a few of the thousands of artists in the program who have achieved international recognition.
In recent years however as budgets get cut the visual arts component of this historical program is slowly dwindling away. Currently The New York Landmarks Conservancy is working diligently with Congressman José E. Serrano to save Ben Shahn’s 13 WPA murals that decorate the public spaces of the landmarked United States Post Office-Bronx Central Annex at 560 Grand Concourse.
In the stacks:
The mural art of Ben Shahn : original cartoons, drawings, prints, and dated paintings, September 28-October 30, 1977 : a loan exhibition / organized by the Joe and Emily Lowe Art Gallery, Sims Hall, College of Visual and Performing Arts, Syracuse University – Special Collections — Exhibition Catalogs – Alphabetical by Artist – S
Ben Shahn’s New York : the photography of modern times / Deborah Martin Kao, Laura Katzman, Jenna Webster ; Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge – Main Stacks – TR820.5 .S4797 2000
Ben Shahn : New Deal artist in a cold war climate, 1947-1954 / Frances K. Pohl – Main Stacks – N6537.S5 P64 1989
Art for the millions; essays from the 1930s by artists and administrators of the WPA Federal Art Project, edited, and with an introd., by Francis V. O’Connor – Main Stacks – N8838.O25
Violins & shovels : the WPA arts projects / Milton Meltzer – Main Stacks – NX735.M44
Do you need to agree with artists politically to find their work worthwhile? And what if the intentions behind the work turn out to be the opposite of our assumptions? Recently the Seattle paper The Stranger published a profile of local artist Charles Krafft that revealed he is a Holocaust denier and white nationalist. This has a particular bearing on his artwork, much of which consists of innocent seeming tchotches based on, among other things, Nazi iconography.
>>[Krafft] says, “The Jews have gotten white people to turn against themselves,” and that Holocaust revisionism is “a good weapon to use against the people who are trying to replace us.”<<
So what does this revelation mean for the public reception of his work? That is still being hashed out, but as SVA's resident design historian extraordinaire had this to say:
>>“The question of whether he’s an artist or a propagandist, or combination of both has to be judged from the outside, not the inside,” said Steven Heller, a former art director of the New York Times and prolific writer whose literary oeuvre includes Swastika: Symbol Beyond Redemption. The responsibility of interpreting the work, or placing it into a social context, “must be self-policed by the artist’s establishment,” he added. “If [Krafft] or anyone else is putting things into their artwork that are questionable, you have to ask the question of ‘why?’”>>
Krafft responded to the issue on Studio 360 and a right wing show on Counter-Currents Radio (excerpts).
To delve deeper in the stacks:
Mirroring evil : Nazi imagery/recent art / edited by Norman L. Kleeblatt – N6868.5.N37 M57 2001
The swastika : symbol beyond redemption? / Steven Heller , Jeff Roth – BL604.S8 H45 2008
Hitler’s willing executioners : ordinary Germans and the Holocaust / Daniel Jonah Goldhagen – D804.3 .G648 1996
Historical atlas of the Holocaust / United States Holocaust Memorial Museum- G1797.21.E29 H5 1996
Nazi propaganda : the power and the limitations / edited by David Welch – D253.25.N39 1983
Global weirdness : severe storms, deadly heat waves, relentless drought, rising seas, and the weather of the future / Climate Central – QC981.8.C5 .G58 2012
Farts around the world : a spotter’s guide / by August O’Phwinn ; illustrations by Lisa Hanawalt – PN6231.F55 O64 2011
How to read world history in art / Flavio Febbraro and Burkhard Schwetje – N8210 .F59 2010
Interpreting the images of Greek myths : an introduction / Klaus Junker ; translated by Annemarie Kunzl-Snodgrass and Anthony Snodgrass. – N7760 .J7813 2012
Mikhael Subotzky : retinal shift / texts by Anthea Buys & Sean O’Toole – TR647 .S885 2012
Heads up, Comics Fans, the Society of Illustrators has a show up honoring a creative genius and former SVA instructor, The Art of Harvey Kurtzman. If you have ever read a story from the old color version of Mad, you have read Kurtzman’s work – he wrote every story and then collaborated with an incredible bull pen of artists (Wally Wood! Will Elder! Jack Davis!) to create the printed version. The show is up through May 11th, with the opening reception taking place tomorrow night from 7 to 11 – so be sure to check it out.
In the stacks:
The art of Harvey Kurtzman : the mad genius of comics / by Denis Kitchen and Paul Buhle – PN6727.K87 Z75 2008
The comics journal library. Vol. 7, Harvey Kurtzman / edited by Greg Sadowski – PN6710 .C66
My life as a cartoonist / by Harvey Kurtzman, with Howard Zimmerman – PN6727.K87 Z468 1988
Humbug / [editor, Harvey Kurtzman ; art, Jack Davis ... [et al.] – PN6728.H86 K87 2008 v.1
From aargh! To zap! : Harvey Kurtzman’s visual history of the comics / by Harvey Kurtzman with Michael Barrier – PN6725.K87 1991b OVERSIZE
We are moving up Photo Friday this week because we will be closed tomorrow and rest of the weekend for Spring Break (whoohoo!). So here is our weekly photo, this time a behind the scenes shot from our processing area where new books go through cataloging on their way to the shelf. This title is illustrated by Lisa Hanawalt, one of my favorite cartoonists/illustrators – look for it on the New Book Shelf soon!
The Visual Arts Library has added an new research database for articles on art, design, crafts anf much more: Art Source, featuring full text articles from over 630 journals and magazines, 220+ full-text books. The database is offered by EBSCO, meaning it has the familiar interface of Art Full Text, Academic Search Elite, and many other database titles.
From the site:
- Over 630 full-text journals and more than 220 full-text books
- Detailed indexing and abstracts for many leading academic journals, magazines and trade publications
- An Image Collection of over 63,000 images provided by Picture Desk and other sources
- Strong international coverage, including periodicals published in French, Italian, German, Spanish and Dutch
Art reproduction records
- Podcasts from leading museums on artists and individual works of art
To access Art Source from home or campus using the library’s site, go to:
sva.edu/library > Find Articles & Images > Art & Design tab > Art Source.
If prompted for a login, use your MySVA username/password.
We have begun the Spring Break for 2013 and the library’s hours have changed for this week.
Monday – Thursday: 9am – 6pm
Friday – Sunday: CLOSED
We will reopen to our regular schedule on Monday, March 11th.
For Photo Friday our Evening/Weekend Reference Librarian Lori Salmon brought us this shot by BFA Photography student Ryan Shorosky demonstrating the iPhone’s panoramic mode.