Sunday, May 28, 2017

New Deal Art: "Preaching to the Fishes"

Above: "Preaching to the Fishes," a wood engraving on paper by Fritz Eichenberg (1901-1990), created while he was in the WPA's Federal Art Project, ca. 1935-1937. In a 1964 oral history interview, Eichenberg recalled the troubles of the Great Depression and his start in the WPA: "I made the rounds and I was received by most people with kindness but they said, 'We are all in trouble now. We can't take any chances. We can't give you any work'... [and then a friend asked] 'Have you tried the WPA?'... I went there with a few of my wooden engravings, or prints and asked him what I could do... He said, 'Oh, this is marvelous work. Go ahead and do what you want to do.' It was that simple... I got box wood, which is very hard to get - the WPA had kind of a supply room and everything we needed. You had to say what you needed, and you got it. They bought the tools. They bought the gravers and they sharpened the gravers and you took your material home with you. You just picked it up there -- beautiful wood blocks, any size." Image courtesy of the General Services Administration and the Baltimore Museum of Art.

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