Harry Gottlieb (American, 1895–1992). Ruins Along the Hudson, ca. 1937. Oil on canvas. Oklahoma City Museum of Art. WPA Collection, 1942.041.
In 1935, in an effort to curb the mass unemployment of the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Works Progress Administration (WPA), one of a number of domestic programs known collectively as the New Deal. While much of the WPA was focused on improving the nation’s infrastructure, it also provided substantial resources for the arts and artists through the Federal Art Project (FAP), which employed 3,500 artists by 1936, and was instrumental in launching the careers of Jackson Pollock, Willem De Kooning, and Stuart Davis, among many others.
The Museum’s WPA collection features a large proportion of rural American landscapes and depictions of labor, infrastructure, and industrial development. All are figurative, as was favored by the WPA, and there are significant representations of female and foreign-born (predominately Russian) artists in the Museum’s holdings. The WPA collection also contains two artists with local ties, Muscogee (Creek)/Pawnee painter and muralist Acee Blue Eagle and printmaker Elmer Capshaw.
Oklahoma City Museum of Art - The Complete WPA Collection: 75th Anniversary