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The Cover
January 19, 2005

Home Sweet Home

Author Affiliations

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2005;293(3):275. doi:10.1001/jama.293.3.275

Like Joseph Delaney (JAMA cover, January 12, 2005), the Romanian-born Harry Gottlieb (1895-1992) was an American Scene painter whose realistic paintings focused on the dominant social issues of the 1930s in America—the four horsemen of homelessness, hunger, poverty, and unemployment. Like Delaney, he was part of the massive Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration (FAP-WPA), a government-sponsored program designed not only to provide paid employment for artists, but to provide art for public buildings, to educate the public, in particular the school children, in the appreciation of American painting, and to make a historical record of the daily life of the people. Begun in 1935, the program employed thousands of artists in every medium and type of art; when the program ended in 1943 because government efforts had to be redirected to the war effort, these largely anonymous artists had created tens of thousands of art works—murals, sculptures, easel paintings, and prints—a quintessential American body of work for public appreciation. In wood, plaster, oil, tempera, and marble, they left a documentary view of the life of the American people at a certain period in its history. Further, it was a phenomenon in public patronage hitherto unwitnessed and yet to be surpassed—or even equaled. Though many of the works have been lost, destroyed, painted over, or are otherwise unaccounted for, many have also survived. With new research, there is new appreciation for these survivors; for the missing, there is also renewed enthusiasm in mining this motherlode of American art for the riches it may disclose.

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