WPA Paintings in upcoming American Scene Auction, May 22, 2010
Cowan's Auctions will be offering several exceptional WPA era paintings in our upcoming American Scene Auction on May 22, 2010. The WPA, or the Works Progress Administration, was implemented in 1935 by Franklin Roosevelt during the Great Depression, a time of social upheavel and fiscal uncertainty. Nationwide, artists supported by the WPA created murals, paintings, sculptures and prints that were loaned to schools, libraries, galleries and other institutions. By 1943, the WPA ended, but not before many quintessentially American art objects were produced.
Our May sale features several easel paintings, including two paintings by Carl Nyquist (American, 1888-1959), the WPA Era Street Scene and another WPA Scene of women sitting on a front porch, as seen below
Nyquist's paintings focus on typical WPA subject matter, the worker or everyday people. Additionally, these scenes promoted a national and collective American identity.
A California artist, Ferenczy (American, 20th century), was also funded by the WPA. His painting, Blacksmith Scene, highlights the active, working man surrounded by others engaged in the scene. The bold colors and strong highlights help to create the idea of vitality and emotion.
Another painting that highlights color and activity is John Stenvall's (American, 1907-1998) Veterans Housing Project
Working in Chicago, Stenvall's work was exhibited at the Chicago Art Institute, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Rockefeller Center. Almost immediately, Stenvall receieved critical acclaim and this painting is a fine example of Stenvall's typical American scene subject matter. Influenced by the WPA, Stenvall has chosen a scene that focuses on revitalization of the community.