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New Deal Art: The WPA Murals of Norwalk, CT

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modern history
Boston College

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  1. Introduction
  2. The main subset of the WPA
  3. The cultural sources of New Deal art
  4. The paintings by George Avison
  5. The town of Norwalk
  6. Conclusion

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?. [...]

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