Posters for the People
Publication Date: September 1, 2008
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This lavishly illustrated volume amasses nearly 500 of the best and most striking posters designed by artists working in the 1930s and early 1940s for the government-sponsored Works Progress Administration, or WPA. Posters for the People presents these works for what they truly are: highly accomplished and powerful examples of American art. All are iconic and eye-catching, some are humorous and educational, and many combine modern art trends with commercial techniques of advertising. More than 100 posters have never been published or catalogued in federal records; they are included here to ensure their place in the history of American art and graphic design.
The story of these posters is a fascinating journey, capturing the complex objectives of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal reform program. Through their distinct imagery and clear and simple messages, the WPA posters provide a snapshot of an important era when the U.S. government employed hundreds of artists to create millions of posters promoting positive social ideals and programs and a uniquely American way of life. The resulting artworks now form a significant historical record. More than a mere conveyor of government information, they stand as timeless images of beauty and artistic accomplishment.
Ennis Carter is the founder and director of Design for Social Impact in Philadelphia. Established in 1996, Design for Social Impact is among the first and foremost graphic design workshops devoted exclusively to promoting public-interest issues. Carter is also the driving force behind the WPA Living Archive, an online public project begun in 2002 to preserve the legacy of posters the U.S. government produced between 1935 and 1943 to promote New Deal programs and civic issues. Christopher DeNoon is the author of Posters of the WPA (Wheatley Press, 1987). DeNoon is the leading expert on the history of the Federal Art Project’s WPA Poster Division and its graphic output. He is co-owner of Fibula Studios, a design and production studio of handcrafted jewelry, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.