WPA Silkscreen Posters, ca. 1940
I realize that they are from the WPA period, the 1930s, here in America. And they were part of a group of posters that became available to me through two elderly ladies who had taught at the Art Institute of Chicago.
They are, in fact, the work of the WPA, from Chicago. And each one of the posters says, "The WPA Art Project," either Chicago or, in some case, it'll say Illinois. Only two of these posters are signed. And to be honest, the names that are on them are not particularly major names. These are all from 1936 to 1941. The WPA employed over 5,000 artists, and they produced thousands and thousands and thousands of posters. It was the way for unemployed artists in America during the Depression to find some work. It was a really, a great program that benefited America as a whole. And a lot of the WPA posters concentrated around cultural events. And that's largely what we have here. We have National Art Week. We have Understanding the Arts. We have a poster that encourages people to read more. Now, they're all silkscreens. All of those posters were actually printed on board, and this is why very few of them have survived. Silkscreen actually scratches very easily. You can see a few scratches in this image, but not, not so bad. You've kept these in really good condition. And usually with WPA posters, the board will crack, or the images will get scratched, so very few of them have survived. This poster dates from 1940. This poster dates from 1941. Now, the Library of Congress has the largest collection of WPA posters in America, with over 900 images. But I have to tell you, in the ten years that I've been conducting poster auctions, I have never seen so many WPA posters at once.
But I usually see one at a time. If I'm lucky, in a great year, I'll see three at a time. But here we're showing five of them. You have another one here. So a total of six.
Plus about three or four or five more that I don't have with me.
These posters have become so popular in America now, I would estimate, at auction, as a group, the six pieces that we have here at $10,000 to $15,000.
A really extraordinary slice of graphic Americana.
Well, that is very exciting news.
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