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The Wolfsonian Honors Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the New Deal
The Wealth of the Nation, 1938. Seymour Fogel (American, 1911–1984 Commissioned for Independence Avenue Lobby, Social Security Building, Washington, DC (installed 1942) Tempera on paper. The Wolfsonian–Florida International University, Miami Beach, FL, The Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection, 84.5.99

MIAMI.- A Bittersweet Decade: The New Deal in America, 1933-43 considers the impact of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs on American culture. The exhibition explores how the government’s patronage of art, design, and architecture were integral parts of the larger project of the New Deal, which aimed to spur recovery from the Great Depression and change American society. Commemorating the 75th anniversary of the New Deal, the exhibition will be on view at The Wolfsonian–FIU from July 3, 2008 through January 19, 2009. It is curated by Marianne Lamonaca, associate director for curatorial affairs and education, Jonathan Mogul, curatorial research associate, and John A. Stuart, professor, School of Architecture, Florida International University.

The New Deal encompassed a great variety of federal government programs, many of which contributed significantly to the visual culture and built environment of the 1930s and 1940s. The Federal Art Project employed painters, sculptors, printmakers, poster designers, and craftspeople. The Section of Fine Arts in the Treasury Department commissioned artworks, such as murals, for federal buildings. The Farm Security Administration hired photographers who traveled the country and produced an enormous body of images documenting the hardship experienced by the rural poor. And other agencies, such as the Public Works Administration and the Tennessee Valley Authority, built large infrastructure projects – such as dams, bridges, and highways – that permanently changed the landscape of the United States.

Drawing largely on the resources of The Wolfsonian–FIU, and complemented by the collections of local and national supporters, including Martin Z. Margulies, Jason Schoen, Frederic A. Sharf, and Wolfsonian founder Mitchell Wolfson, Jr., this exhibition will showcase the range of art and design that New Deal programs generated. Paintings, sculpture, prints, posters, mural studies, photographs, books, models, furniture and a variety of other kinds of objects will be on view. Two overall themes, “The Personal New Deal” and “The Public New Deal,” will organize the exhibition’s narrative. The first section of the exhibition will feature artworks, such as portraits and landscapes that express subjective visions of individual artists, as well as items intended for private spaces, to show how federal patronage promoted an outpouring of highly idiosyncratic and personal images and objects. The second section will focus on the more familiar, public face of the New Deal, featuring objects meant to be viewed by great numbers of people, as well as depictions of projects (such as the Tennessee Valley Authority) meant to produce large-scale changes in living conditions. Throughout the exhibition, the impact of the New Deal on South Florida will receive specific attention.

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