Federal Art Project, Photographic Division collection, circa 1920-1965, bulk 1935-1942
This site provides access to the papers of Federal Art Project. Photographic Division in the Archives of American Art that were digitized in 2017, and total 18,430 images.
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Scope and Contents
The Federal Art Project (FAP), Photographic Division collection dates from circa 1920-1965, with the bulk of the records spanning the active years of the FAP: 1935-1942. The collection comprises 12.4 linear feet of photographic prints and negatives, including photos of FAP artists and the artwork created by them, and other activities of the FAP in communities throughout New York City and other states. Photographers include Andrew Herman, Sol Horn, David Robbins, Leo Seltzer, and others.
Artist files comprise three-quarters of the collection and consist primarily of photographs of artwork, as well as scattered photos of artists at work, including: Charles Alston, Luis Arenal, Richmond Barthe, John Benson, Andrew Berger, Lucille Blanch, Lucienne Bloch, Ilya Bolotowsky, Luise Brann, Selma Burke, Letterio Calapai, Eugene Chodorow, Francis Criss, Stuart Davis, Adolf Dehn, Virginia Dehn, Jose de Rivera, George Pearse Ennis, Philip Evergood, Eugenie Gershoy, Bertram Goodman, Arshile Gorky, Marion Greenwood, Philip Guston, Donal Hord, Joseph Hovell, William Karp, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Edward Laning, Julian Levi, Audrey McMahon, Elizabeth Olds, Anton Refregier, Will Shuster, William Zorach, and others.
The remainder of the collection consists of files documenting related activities and programs of the FAP, arranged by subject. The bulk of these files document the activities of the New York City FAP, including free art classes and art exhibitions for adults and children, exhibitions at the Harlem Art Center, and the work of FAP branches including the Easel Division, the Graphic Arts Division, and the Poster Division.
Other subjects documented include federal and community art centers in eleven states, most extensively Washington State; other WPA projects such as the Federal Theater Project, the Federal Music Project, and the Federal Writers' Project; buildings decorated with FAP artwork; art processes as demonstrated by FAP artists; special events; and people involved with the FAP, including director Holger Cahill.
One folder contains images that appear to have been taken by Berenice Abbott for the exhibition Changing New York (1935), for the Museum of the City of New York in collaboration with the WPA.
The collection was anonymously donated to the Archives of American Art in the late 1950s.
Among the holdings of the Archives of American Art are related collections, including the Federal Art Project of the Work Projects Administration records, 1935-1948. Additional FAP records are held by the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington D.C.
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art and The Walton Family Foundation
The bulk of the collection was microfilmed after donation, with the exception of some of the photographs of artists, which were separated from the collection in 1973, and placed in AAA's Photographs of Artists Collection One. These photographs were microfilmed as part of that collection, and subsequently digitized in 2003 before being returned to the Federal Art Project, Photographic Division collection, in circa 2006. Some re-processing and additional description of the collection was completed by Stephanie Ashley in 2007-2008, with support from the Terra Foundation for American Art. The collection was prepared for scanning by Stephanie Ashley, and digitized in its entirety, in 2017, with funding provided by The Walton Family Foundation.