Democratic Art: The New Deal's Influence On American Culture by Sharon Ann MusherDemocratic Art: The New Deal's Influence On American Culture by Sharon Ann Musher

Democratic Art: The New Deal's Influence On American Culture

bySharon Ann Musher

Hardcover | May 4, 2015

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Throughout the Great Recession American artists and public art endowments have had to fight for government support to keep themselves afloat. It wasn’t always this way. At its height in 1935, the New Deal devoted $27 million—roughly $461 million today—to supporting tens of thousands of needy artists, who used that support to create more than 100,000 works. Why did the government become so involved with these artists, and why weren’t these projects considered a frivolous waste of funds, as surely many would be today?

In Democratic Art, Sharon Musher explores these questions and uses them as a springboard for an examination of the role art can and should play in contemporary society. Drawing on close readings of government-funded architecture, murals, plays, writing, and photographs, Democratic Art examines the New Deal’s diverse cultural initiatives and outlines five perspectives on art that were prominent at the time: art as grandeur, enrichment, weapon, experience, and subversion. Musher argues that those engaged in New Deal art were part of an explicitly cultural agenda that sought not just to create art but to democratize and Americanize it as well. By tracing a range of aesthetic visions that flourished during the 1930s, this highly original book outlines the successes, shortcomings, and lessons of the golden age of government funding for the arts.
Sharon Ann Musher is associate professor of history at Stockton University in New Jersey. She resides in Philadelphia.
Title:Democratic Art: The New Deal's Influence On American CultureFormat:HardcoverDimensions:280 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:May 4, 2015Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022624718X

ISBN - 13:9780226247182

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: Art as a Function of Government

1. May the Artist Live?
2. Art as Grandeur
3. Art as Enrichment
4. Art as a Weapon
5. Art as Experience
6. Art as Subversion

Conclusion: A New Deal for the Arts?


Editorial Reviews

“While other scholars have studied the various New Deal art programs either individually or in broad surveys, in Democratic Art Musher works more conceptually as she seeks to articulate the various ways art’s public purposes were framed by those who advocated or rejected the idea that government should participate in funding the arts. The result is a valuable, engaging, narrative of New Deal arts programs that invites us to think about the argumentative resources potentially available to those who advocate for government-funded arts programs today. . . . Musher’s study is a welcome addition to the scholarly conversation and will be invaluable to those of us introducing students and colleagues to the role of government art in the New Deal.”