U.S. Government Searching for WPA Works

John Sloan, "Fourteenth Street at Sixth Avenue" Detroit Institute of Arts.
John Sloan, "Fourteenth Street at Sixth Avenue." On loan to Detroit Institute of Arts. Courtesy of the U.S. GSA Fine Arts Program

During the height of the Great Depression, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt rolled out the unprecedented New Deal Program for millions of unemployed Americans. For people who could prove they were poor and an artist there was the tantalizing incentive of $42 per week to produce art.

Now, the U.S government is trying to track down missing paintings that it once owned from the hundreds of thousands of artworks created by some 10,000 artists for the Works Progress Administration (WPA). General Services Administration, the federal agency in charge of government buildings, is hoping to recover the artworks as government-property. So far, 200 works have been returned.

GSA Inspector General Brian Miller says every picture tells a story. The WPA artworks tell America's story from the 1930s and 40s.

One recovered image is John Sloan's New York City street scene, Fourteenth Street at Sixth Avenue, which hung for years in a U.S. senator's office. When he died, a staffer took the painting home. The Sloan was discovered by the GSA n 2003. It is now on loan to the Detroit Institute of Arts.

 

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