- The visual arts captured and reflected the effects of the Depression in a number of ways, sometimes paradoxical. While photographers, particularly those working for the Farm Security Administration, depicted the poverty and suffering brought about by the economic crisis or the devastation of the land during the Dust Bowl in countless black and white images, painters often seemed to look back to the American past as a symbol of hope for the future. Regionalists and others like Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton concerned with the American scene painted rich, lush, colorful landscapes. Some working in the Federal Art Project painted murals celebrating American achievements and workers, while others, like Ben Shahn provided some bleaker images of the Dust Bowl in federal posters and adverts. Edward Hopper produced bright, cheerful images of the New England coast but at the same time dark views of urban loneliness and alienation. During World War II, a number of artists like Shahn were employed to produce posters for the Office of War Information. Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms series also appeared as covers for the Saturday Evening Post. By the end of the war, a new school of abstract expressionism—perhaps influenced by the many European exiles—was appearing and was best represented by Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. Both of these artists were among those exhibited at Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of the Century gallery in New York City in October 1942.
Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . Neil A. Wynn . 2015.