Included in Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration was funding for the Federal Art Project. At the close of the Federal Art Project in 1943, over 200,000 works had been made from artists including Mark Rothko, Grant Wood and Phillip Guston; now known around the world. Along with plays, murals and traditional paintings, many posters were made by artists for organisations also sponsored by the WPA. The incredible diversity of style and subject remain influential for graphic designers and artists today.
Alan Lomax was a folk music collector for the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress. He made acetate and aluminum discs of Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Muddy Waters, Jelly Roll Morton and other influential early American musicians. With the ambitious efforts that included Alan’s father, also a musicologist, and his wife Ruby, many important songs and musicians would have remained undiscovered.
Gordon Parks was a filmaker, photographer, director and musician. Among other achievements, Parks published photographic essays in Life Magazine, wrote novels and directed “Shaft” in 1971. Parks photographed Chicago’s South Side Ghetto in 1941. Those photographs won him a fellowship with the Farm Security Administration, a major sponsor of anthropological photography and an institution which employed many of the photographers featured on Photistoric. The following photographs were taken in 1942 at the beginning of Park’s professional photography career with the FSA. They show a photographer who’s already technically proficient and able to capture the emotion of his working class subjects.
All photographs © The Gordon Parks Foundation.
J.P. Morgan gave Edward S. Curtis $75,000 to create a series on the American Indian in 1906. Curtis received no salary, the money was for supplies and travel. The project took him nearly 20 years. For Curtis, the project was not simply a photographic diary, but a complete cultural survey. He made over 10,000 wax cylinder recordings of language and conversation, wrote thousands of notes on everything from tribal lore to architecture and took over 40,000 photographs. Below are over 100 year-old portraits selected from the collection.
Drag your mouse over the image area to view the panoramics.