From 1935 to 1943, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) sponsored the Federal Art Project, which employed as many as 10,000 artists during the Great Depression. In exchange for a modest weekly wage, artists produced paintings, sculpture, prints, and other works to be distributed to public institutions. The University of Illinois received an extensive cache of works, which were transferred to Krannert Art Museum upon its founding in 1961.
This exhibition showcases a selection of paintings made by WPA artists from KAM’s collection. A revelation for our visitors will certainly be a striking still life of calla lilies, newly conserved, by the New Mexico painter Pedro López Cervántez. This painting was one of ten that represented the artist at the Museum of Modern Art’s important Masters of Popular Painting exhibition in 1938. Cervántez, who worked directly from nature, stated that he felt “that all this beauty and color should have a place in every home.”
Curated by Maureen Warren, Curator of European and American Art