NEW YORK — Continuing a tradition of offering specialized auctions, Swann Galleries will offer its second edition of The Artists of the WPA on Thursday, January 27 which aims to call attention to the generation of artists that contributed to the Federal Arts Project and the varying “alphabet agencies” and helped form a new American identity in the 20th century. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
Leading the sale is People’s Follies #2, a 1938 tempera on board by one of the leading elders of American art during the New Deal, Reginald Marsh. It is estimated at $30,000-$50,000. Further works that embody the social realism movement of the era include Daniel Celentano’s Pelham Bay, estimated at $8,000-$12,000, and Aaron Bohrod’s Getting Ready for Auction, a 1942 oil on Masonite estimated at $5,000-$7,000.
Murals were among a core part of the Federal Arts Projects; featured in the sale are a number of studies and maquettes for these efforts. Most notable is James Daugherty’s 1936 maquette for the social room of the Fairfield Court Housing Project in Stamford, Connecticut, which carries an estimate of $5,000-$7,000, as well as two additional studies for additional projects throughout the 1930s; Daugherty completed a number of murals throughout the state under the Public Works Art Project. Michael Loew is present with Project for Mural, Agriculture, a tempera on black illustration board estimated at $1,500-$2,500. Loew was awarded mural projects funded by the Treasury Section of Fine Arts. Studies from Lois North, Jean Swiggett and Robert L. Lambdin also feature.
The Farm Security Administration tasked many photographers with capturing the lives of Americans affected by the Great Depression across the country. The most recognizable image from this agency is Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother, which is set to cross the block in a portfolio of 10 FSA photographs with images by Lange, Walker Evans, Arthur Rothstein and Ben Shahn, estimated at $4,000-$6,000. Also of note from Lange is Matriarch, South Dakota, a 1939 silver print that was printed in the 1950s. It carries an estimate of $4,000-$6,000. Images by Peter Sekaer, Margaret Bourke-White, Arthur Rothstein, Berenice Abbott, Marion Post Wolcott and Russell Lee complete the section.
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