The Great Depression that struck the United States in the late 1920s came as a shock to millions of Americans. Almost overnight people saw their entire life savings vanish before their eyes and many were laid off by their employers. By the time Franklin Roosevelt took office in March 1933, the economic situation had become more severe.
[...] The town of Norwalk has one of the largest collections of existing WPA murals today. However, most of these paintings differ from the mainstream. While they can be classified and analyzed using the three cultural influences, their overall content is vastly different other murals throughout the country. Most murals depict images either of the effects of the Depression or of American industrial progress. Although they give Americans a sense of achievement, they don't have the same affect as the ones from Norwalk. [...]
[...] The second cultural source of New Deal art was the American scene. Artist of the time focused on native themes in the country, finally rejecting the European influences that had dominated American art over the previous decades. The need for a nationalistic expression in art forms was voiced by many during the period. Across the country museum directors and art critics were clamoring for the loosening of Europe's hold on American painters. The revival of the American scene can be seen as an “American Renaissance”. [...]
[...] society working, and society sustained by the new idealism of the Roosevelt Administration. These three cultural sources are reflected by the Depression art of a single town: Norwalk, CT. Norwalk was a typical blue collar American town, lying 45 miles outside New York City. Like many American towns, Norwalk was deeply affected by the Depression which almost forced the closure of the town's most profitable industry: hat making. As the economic situation of the town worsened, the arts flourished with the help of government finances. [...]
[...] The final cultural source of the New Deal art was the Mexican mural movement of the 1920s. The movement stemmed from the Mexican Revolution a few decades earlier. Artists such as Diego Rivera and Jose Clemente Orozco created the idea of people's which depicted famous figures and scenes in Mexican history. Upon seeing murals by both Rivera and Orozco, artists were amazed at their style and adopted it for their WPA murals. In many murals across the country, artists painted scenes from American history. [...]
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