Tuesday, September 29, 2015

New Deal Art: "Fall in the Foothills"

Above: "Fall in the Foothills," an oil painting by W. Herbert Dunton, created while he participated in the New Deal's Public Works of Art Project, ca. 1933-1934. Dunton was born in 1878, had a very successful art career, and was a founding member of the Taos Society of Artists (an interesting biography of Dunton can be read here). However, according to the Smithsonian American Art Museum, "During the Depression, suffering financially and, increasingly, from poor health, Dunton worked on the Public Works of Art Project murals..." Dunton's involvement in this art program highlights one of the core philosophies of the New Deal: Governmental assistance for people who need help, because charity is too unreliable and, in many cases, too short of resources to help. Sadly, this New Deal philosophy is mostly gone today, in favor of a cold-blooded "tough-luck-your-on-your-own" ideology (which is why, among other things, America has a record number of homeless children). Dunton passed away in 1936, a few years after he made the painting above. He was 57 years old. The New Deal helped Dunton spend his final years doing what he did best and still earn a modest paycheck. Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

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