Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Posters for the People: The Art of the WPA

Posters for the People: The Art of the WPA

About the Book: Arriving just in time for the 75th anniversary of the New Deal, Posters for the People features nearly 500 of the best posters produced by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the 1930s and 1940s. As you'll recall from high school history class, the WPA employed hundreds of out-of-work artists to raise awareness about public issues and civic life. Today their posters are celebrated as iconic works of graphic design; they also provide timeless messages about the merits of hard work, good parenting, a clean house, and personal hygiene.  

Posters for the People was produced by the WPA Living Archive, a project started in 2002 to preserve the legacy of these images. Some of the posters have been cataloged by the Library of Congress, but more than 25 percent are 'new' and have never been published in book form. Complete with hundreds of beautifully reproduced images, Posters for the People is essential reading for artists, designers, collectors of Americana, and anyone interested in United States history. 

Our Take:This oversized coffee-table style book is heaped full of amazing vintage nationalist posters from American culture of the 1930s and 1940s.  These rarely seen images represent posters produced by artists at the time, hired by the WPA.

The art involved alone is well worth the cover price here, but when you add in the history?  Thats something I couldn't resist.  The movement towards recognizing these poster artists in the artistic community and in securing their place in American history has progressed far enough that we can now all enjoy books like this one.

The posters provide invaluable snapshots into culture.  It shows us what we were and literally paints a picture of our country.  These posters are the people's medium.  They really appeal to everyone and are accessible in a way that perhaps fine art is not. 

The book offers posters advertising everything from encouragement to cure cancer to tourist posters and marketplace ads.  Its such a wonderful variety and a great look back.

How to Buy: Amazon.com or the Quirk Books Site

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