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AH 459 Fall 2016 Art, Architecture, and Ideology Under Dictatorship

This seminar will examine the visual culture of Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and Stalinist Russia with a view toward how totalitarian regimes do (and do not) shape visual culture. Before beginning embarking on our three case studies, we will review worki

WPA Murals Intro

This page consists of resources regarding WPA Murals.  It is by no means comprehensive but rather a starting point. The two web resources listed below, have many resources attached.


History of WPA:


The Federal Art Project (FAP) was the visual arts branch of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a government agency created in 1935 to find employment for people on public projects in response to the Great Depression. In December 1933 the ambitious Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) was set up to create regional offices to employ artists, with Edward Bruce of the Treasury Department as national director. The successful program employed some 3749 artists across the country, but it was phased out by the summer of 1934. (Bruce later headed other programs under the Treasury Department that employed artists.) With the relief needs of artists, writers, musicians and theater people unresolved and with the experimental climate of the New Deal still energizing legislation, Harry Hopkins of the WPA set up Federal Project No. 1 in August 1935, which had the most far-reaching cultural impact on the country. There were four cultural projects: Art, Music, Theatre and Writers. ...Under the WPA/FAP, artists were placed in eight divisions: murals, easel paintings, photographs, sculptures, graphics, posters, motion pictures and the Index of American Design. Funds were also available to staff workshops and community art centers with administrators, teachers and artists’ models, but not to pay the rent or fund equipment and supplies, which often came from civic groups or churches. ...FAP artists produced some 2500 murals; over 17,000 sculptures, 108,000 paintings, 200,000 prints from 11,000 designs, 2 million silkscreen posters from 35,000 designs, and more than 22,000 plates for the Index of American Design. ...The FAP was continually under attack by politicians who believed that artists should not be paid by the government to make art, and in the late 1930s the rule was put in place to terminate artists after they had been employed for 18 months. The project was phased out in 1943. Most FAP artists polled by Francis O’Connor recalled their WPA/FAP years to be among the most meaningful experiences of their artistic careers for it created a sense of community and a purpose—to make art for the common people.

Patricia Hills. "Works Progress Administration/Federal Art Project." Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press, accessed September 21, 2016,

WPA Murals Web Resources

WPA Murals listings

New Deal/WPA Art In Maryland – Unless indicated, works of art are located in the US Post Office building.
Location Artist Title Date Medium
Aberdeen Henri Brenner “Communication” 1938 plaster relief (missing)
Catonsville Branch
Avery Johnson “Incidents in the History of Catonsville” 1942 oil on canvas (several panels – some missing)
Dundalk Branch
Harrison Gibbs “Welding” 1942 wood relief
Bel Air William H. Calfee “First Performance of Edwin Booth” 1938 oil on canvas
Bethesda Robert F. Gates “Montgomery County Farm Women’s Market” 1939 mural
Elkton Alexander B. Clayton “Arrival of the Post, 1780″   oil on canvas (in storage)
Ellicott City Peter DeAnna “Building of Ellicott Mills” and “Landscape of Ellicott City” 1942 oil on canvas
Hagerstown Frank Long “Transportation of the Mail” 1938 mural (3 panels)
Hyattsville Eugene Kingman “Hyattsville Countryside” 1938 mural
Laurel Mitchell Jamieson “Mail Coach at Laurel” 1939 mural
Oakland Robert F. Gates “Buckwheat Harvest” 1942 tempera
Pocomoke Perna Krick “Power of Communication” 1939 wood relief
Rockville Judson Smith “Sugarloaf Mountain” 1940 mural
Salisbury Jacob Getlar Smith “Cotton Patch,” “Stage at Byrd’s Inn,” and “Salisbury” 1939 oil on canvas
Silver Spring Nicolai Cikovsky “The Old Tavern” 1937 oil on canvas
Towson Nicolai Cikovsky “History of Transportation” 1939 tempera (5 panels)
Upper Marlboro Mitchell Jamieson “Tobacco Cutters” 1938 mural


WPA Murals Map

Decker Library at the Maryland Institute College of Art | Location: 1401 W. Mount Royal Ave., Baltimore, MD 21217 | Mailing: 1300 W. Mount Royal Ave., Baltimore, MD 21217

Research Help: 410-225-2273 / | General Questions: 410-225-2272 /

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