Monday, June 6, 2016

WPA Murals at the Johnson Museum

In 1935, the Federal Art Project (FAP), a subdivision of President Roosevelt’s Work Progress Administration (WPA), was established. Over the next decade, thousands of artists were employed to create art for public spaces in federal buildings. Four murals—by artists Ilya Bolotowsky, Albert Swinden, Joseph Rugolo, and Dane Chanase—were commissioned for the Hospital of Chronic Diseases on Welfare Island (later Goldwater Memorial Hospital, Roosevelt Island) to decorate public rooms, where patients could relax in a quiet atmosphere. Bolotowsky wrote that the hospital “should have a mural in its day room as modern and progressive as the structure of the building and as the medical science of its staff.” The choice of these abstract artists was an unusual one, but Burgoyne Diller, project supervisor of the New York City WPA/FAP Mural Division, was a founding member of the American Abstract Artists group, as were Bolotowsky and Swinden.  

This exhibition was curated by Nancy E. Green, the Gale and Ira Drukier, Curator of European and American Art, Prints & Drawings, 1800–1945, at the Johnson Museum

January 30 – May 29, 2016 

Hyperallergic Review:

Joseph Rugolo

Ilya Bolotowski

Ilya Bolotowski (detail)

Ilya Bolotowski (detail)

Albert Swinden

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