The period that produced arguably the United States’ greatest challenges—the Great Depression and the beginning of World War II—also produced art that both reflected the values of the nation, and provided optimism for the future. 1934—A New Deal for Artists is a collection of fifty-six paintings produced under the auspices of the Public Works of Art Program from the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The PWAP—which was a component of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal economic recovery program—lasted from mid-December of 1933 to June of 1934. During that brief period, around 4,000 artists from around the nation were commissioned by the program to produce some 15,000 paintings reflecting the everyday life of the nation. The paintings are a lasting visual record of America at a specific time and embody the country’s hope for a brighter future.
Above: Photograph of the 2011 installation of the exhibition at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.
The paintings are a lasting visual record of America at a specific time and embody the country’s hope for a brighter future.
Organized and circulated by the Smithsonian American Art Museum with support from the William R. Kenan, Jr. Endowment Fund and the Smithsonian Council for American Art. The C.F. Foundation in Atlanta supports the museum’s traveling exhibition program, Treasures to Go.
Local support for the exhibition was provided by Hyundai Motor Manufacturing, Alabama with additional support from Loree and Owen Aronov; Teri Aronov; Bobbi and Ferrell Patrick; AlaTrust; RiverBank & Trust; and Burke Schloss.