Art Deco: The first international decorative style, Art Deco originated
from the large exhibition, held in Paris in 1925, called the Exposition
Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes. Although
this movement flourished between the wars, its characteristic stylized
and slightly abstracted forms remain evident in contemporary architecture.
The Art Deco style is extremely eclectic and varied including references
to Art Nouveau, most of the important artistic movements that followed
(Fauvism, Cubism, Futurism, Expressionism) and such archaeological
interests as ancient Egyptian and Mayan art. One of the chief unifying
factors of Art Deco is the emphasis on geometrical patterns, as
well as the full acceptance of the machine age and the consequent
abandonment of the traditional barrier between “fine” and “applied” art.
American Scene Painting: This general descriptive term has been
applied to the work of a number of painters active in the 1920s
and 1930s such as Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, and John Steuart
Curry. It represents a movement in American art away from abstraction
toward realism, and is a continuation of the American tradition
of genre painting. As part of the reaction against formalism, artists
were concerned with the depiction of their chosen subjects. However,
the first painters of what was later to be called “the American
Scene” show a strong vein of social commentary or satire
only partially carried on by their successors.
Mural Painting: A painting executed in any medium,
most readily in fresco, tempera, or oil, painted directly on or
a particular wall surface. Frequently painted in important public
places, mural paintings, know from ancient times, are perhaps the
earliest form of "mass propaganda".
Public Works of Art Project (PWAP): The PWAP was the first relief
project established under the Roosevelt administration. It provided
work for artists from December 1933 to June 1934. Its goals were
to present quality art for public buildings, such as hospitals
and schools, while offering relief or unemployed artists. Over
3,500 artists were eventually employed by this project.
Relief: Type of sculpture in which the design or figures extend
out from a surface on which they are carved (subtractive method)
or attached (additive method).
High relief: Sculpture in which the figures or ornamentation
are raised more than half their thickness from the background.
Low relief: Type of sculpture in which the figures project less
than one-half their actual proportion from the background.
Treasury Section of Fine Arts (The Section): Active from 1934 through
1943, The Section sponsored competitions for commissions to decorate
federal buildings including many post offices.
Works Progress Administration/Federal Art Project (WPA/FAP): Established
in 1935, the WPA/FAP employed, at its peak it, three million people,
mostly in construction projects, such as the building of roads,
airports, parks, bridges, libraries, and other public buildings.
Only two percent of the workers employed at it's peak were artists,
receiving commissions for easel and mural paintings, sculpture,