President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal, New Design

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New Deal, New Design In a time when the governments of the world were focused on solving the horrible economic crisis that came to be known as the Great Depression, it is a safe assumption that the minds of most people were not on art. United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the New Deal programs as a means of combatting the rampant unemployment and poverty that affected nearly every American. One of these programs was the Works Progress Administration, which sought to employ millions of out-of-work Americans through the construction of public buildings and roads. The Works Progress Administration, through the Federal Art Project, also employed skilled workers in what were then considered non-essential jobs - workers like…show more content…
Why should it? Government only exists to protect people from foreign invasion and to take your hard earned money in the form of taxes, doesn’t it? That is certainly what many people of the time thought and what many people, particularly conservatives, continue to believe today. Federal officials in the 1930s, however, knew just how important art was in keeping up the morale of the country in a time of depression (Smithsonian American Art Museum). Not only was art an important way to keep spirits high, it was also a means of communicating important information to the public in a time before, cellphones, the internet, and television. Radios could only do so much for people, as they required the person to have a purchased a radio and to continue to pay for the cost associated with using the electricity necessary to keep them running. Posters, on the other hand, were cheap, and people saw them everywhere that they went. It is no surprise then that the United States Government chose to focus on this unique medium to get its messages across. Accordingly, the Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project produced more than two million copies of approximately 35,000 different posters (Meggs and…show more content…
Stylistically speaking, the modern movement did not have much success in America, at least not at first. American graphic design was dominated by more traditional illustration up through the 1920s and 1930s, but modernist European design slowly began gaining influence thereafter (Meggs and Pervis 350). One artist who helped to transform the nature of American graphic design was Lester Beall. In a time dominated by economic depression and financial disparity, Beall drew from the Dada movement and attempted to develop bold and exciting forms that were both “randomly organized” and “intuitively placed” (Meggs and Pervis 351). In his posters for the Rural Electrification Administration, Beall often creates movement through simple images of arrows and combines photography with simple flat planes of color. Many other designers of posters for the Works Progress Administration used similar elements, drawing from the Bauhaus, pictorial modernism, and constructivism to produce a new modernist approach to graphic design in America (Meggs and Pervis 357). The reductive style of the posters made use of silkscreen printing, which encourages the use of “simple, stenciled forms, bold expanses of opaque color, and hard-edged silhouettes” (Lupton and Miller
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