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A Bittersweet Decade: The New Deal in America, 1933–43

July 5, 2008–January 19, 2009
The Wolfsonian–FIU @ 1001 Washington Avenue

Franklin Delano Roosevelt promised a “new deal for the American people” while campaigning for president in 1932. Upon taking office the next year, he launched a series of programs intended to lift the nation out of the Great Depression and give the federal government an energetic new role in many aspects of economic and social life.

A Bittersweet Decade examined the prominent part that the visual arts played in Roosevelt’s New Deal. Painters, photographers, graphic designers, sculptors, and others exposed social problems, publicized the government’s achievements, embellished public places, documented regional and ethnic cultures, and expressed civic values. Together with artists working outside the auspices of federal agencies, they created a portrait of a nation struggling to emerge from economic collapse and embarking on a course of government-led reform.

The exhibition was organized by The Wolfsonian–FIU with John A. Stuart, FIU School of Architecture, and presented in conjunction with the library installation New Deal Americana.