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Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
During the Great Depression, following the stock market crash of 1929, the nation's greatest financial crisis, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's administration created the Public Works of Art Project. It was the first federal government program designed to support the arts by putting artists back to work. The program's purpose was to alleviate the distress of unemployed professional American artists by paying them to produce artwork that could be used to embellish public buildings. During a relatively short period of time--December 1933 to June 1934--this program enabled nearly 4,000 artists to go back to work to create more than 15,000 murals, paintings, prints and other artworks at a total cost of $1,312,000. This government-assisted renaissance in American art was immediate, helped hundreds of struggling artists, and produced thousands of artworks depicting the "American Scene," which provided artists and citizens a renewed pride in their country. In this article, the author talks about "1934: A New Deal for Artists" which celebrates the 75th anniversary of the Public Works of Art Project by drawing on the Smithsonian American Art Museum's unparalleled collection of vibrant paintings created for the program. The artworks, which were displayed in public facilities, vividly capture the realities and ideals of Depression-era America.