The stock market crash of 1929 initiated a chain of events that crippled the American art scene. As money from private patrons and museums evaporated, artists joined the nation’s staggering number of unemployed workers. The toils and triumphs of a wide range of individual artists and art organizations—documented in letters, photographs, journals, business records and oral—history interviews at the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art—reveal how American artists survived against the odds. The exhibition “Hard Times, 1929–1939” will be on display from June 1 to Sept. 3 in the Archives’ New York Research Center. The gallery is located on the lobby level of the UBS building at 1285 Avenue of the Americas, between 51st and 52nd streets.
Beginning in 1933, government-sponsored art programs provided work relief for artists, employing them as muralists, painters, sculptors, art educators and researchers. “Hard Times” focuses on the evolution of such New Deal programs as the Civil Works Administration’s Public Works of Art Project, the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project and the Treasury Section of Painting and Sculpture, as well as the rise of artists unions and spirited art organizations during the Depression.
The Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art enlivens the extraordinary human stories behind America’s most significant art and artists. It is the world’s pre-eminent resource dedicated to collecting and preserving the papers and primary records of the visual arts in America. Constantly growing in range and depth, and ever increasing in accessibility to its many audiences, it is a vibrant, unparalleled and essential resource for the appreciation, enjoyment and understanding of art in America.
Media only: Mary Savig (202) 633-7959