The Crocker Art Museum is set to open an intriguing exhibition titled “Art for the People: WPA-Era Paintings from the Dijkstra Collection.”
Between the stock market crash of 1929 and the attack on Pearl Harbor, many American artists sought to make their work more accessible to everyday people, partly by depicting the people themselves, especially laborers, the poor, and the disenfranchised.
The artists’ goals were diverse, but included the desire to highlight a shared American experience during one of the country’s most challenging periods, to reject foreign artistic inﬂuences, to document rapidly passing ways of life, and to refine the visual language of protest and demands for social justice.
Some of these objectives were advanced by federally funded projects like the WPA (Works Progress Administration), which effectively transformed artists into “workers” themselves. As there was no prescribed aesthetic, the styles explored in this period ranged from regionalism and “American Scene Painting” to social realism and expressionism.
One of the finest private collections of art from this period is owned by California residents Sandra and Bram Dijkstra, who have been careful to acquire works from the East, Midwest, and West, and especially Californian artists overlooked by other patrons.
“Art for the People: WPA-Era Paintings from the Dijkstra Collection”
Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento
Through May 7, 2023
This year’s show of highlights from the Dijkstra Collection has been organized by the Crocker and two other California institutions, each of which will present it at different times and in different forms. The other partners are the Oceanside Museum of Art (exhibiting June 24–November 5) and the Huntington Library, Art Museum & Botanical Gardens (December 2, 2023–March 18, 2024).
The project is accompanied by a scholarly catalogue.