Works Progress Administration. Federal Art Project. Illinois Art Project

Dates: Circa 1938-1943
Size: 166 photographs, 4 folders
Repository: Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center, Special Collections, 400 S. State St., Chicago, IL 60605
Collection Number: WPA
Provenance: The material in this collection was originally housed in the Art Section of The Chicago Public Library.
Access: No restrictions
Citation: When quoting material from this collection the preferred citation is: Nelson Algren Collection [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections, Chicago Public Library.
Processed: 1990 October

Historical Note

The Illinois Art Project was one of the largest state “sub-projects” under the Federal Art Project, which was in turn an arm of the Works Progress Administration. The Illinois Art Project operated between 1935 and 1943 eventually employing 775 artists and administrators, of whom sixty-two are included in this collection. The general offices were at 135 South LaSalle St., and the main Federal Art Gallery at 211 North Michigan Ave. In addition to direct employment of artists, the Illinois Art Project sponsored educational outreach via the Chicago Park District and Board of Education, which ran twenty-six art centers throughout the city, of which the South Side Art Center (photos 165 and 166) was one.

The artists employed by the Project tended to work in one but sometimes two or more of the “units” which subdivided the Project into genre classification. Easel, which roughly defined any two-dimensional art produced on an easel, accounted for about a third of the workforce. The majority of the pieces produced by the Mural unit were not technically murals at all—that is, frescoes painted into a wall’s surface plaster—but rather large-scale Easel items, usually oil on canvas, later mounted on walls. Other units were Sculpture; Diorama (three-dimensional productions built of pieces of wood or paper or metal, affixed together, as opposed and 139); Graphics (which included architectural and decorating design); Design (including furniture and decor detail such as wooden fruit, see photo 127); Poster; and Photography. It is assumed that all the photos in this collection were produced by the Photography unit of the Illinois Art Project.

About one-fourth of the easel artists chose to work in their own studios. The others utilized the Project studios, large and spacious areas in which many artists worked in the company of others (see photos 158 and 159).

A detailed history of the Illinois Art Project is available in George J. Mavigliano and Richard A. Lawson, The Federal Art Project in Illinois 1935-1943 (Carbondale, Southern Illinois university Press, 1990), call number in Special Collections: N8838 .M38 1990.

Scope and Content

This collection consists of 166 photos and four folders containing a menial amount of contemporary information about the Illinois Art Project. The folders are described below, as Series 1, and the photographs, as Series 2. The photographs are of individual art works produced for the Project, arranged alphabetically by artist (#1-139); pieces whose artists are unidentified, arranged alphabetically by Unit (#140-156); a photo of a Project installation showing various artists’ works (#157); work in progress in the project studios (#158-159); the Federal Art Gallery at 211 North Michigan Avenue (#160-164); and the South Side Art Center at 3831 South Michigan Avenue (#165-166).

The term “Furniture” has been used in the classification columns on pages 4 to 14 to identify that genre of art. The Project classed furniture as part of the Design Unit.

Series 3 contains a list of actual WPA artwork in the holdings of the Special Collections Department of Chicago Public Library.


Series 1: Contemporary Information about the Illinois Art Project

Box 1 Folder 1 Blank Stationery
Box 1 Folder 2 Exhibit: “The Thirties in Illinois: The Rocky Road to Recovery”; 1981
Box 1 Folder 3 New Release: “Many Chicago artists employed by W.P.A.”; 1936 August
Box 1 Folder 4 “Purposes of the Federal Art Project” (4 pp.); [1930’s]
Box 1 Folder 5 Photographs # 1-25
Box 1 Folder 6 Photographs # 26-50
Box 1 Folder 7 Photographs # 51-75
Box 1 Folder 8 Photographs # 76-100
Box 1 Folder 9 Photographs # 101-125
Box 2 Folder 1 Photographs # 126-150
Box 2 Folder 2 Photographs # 151-166

Series 2: Photographs

Number Artist Title Classification Medium Location/Notes
1 Badger, Frances [Children Playing] Mural   Cook County Hospital
2 Badger, Frances [Untitled] Mural   Cook County Hospital
3 Badger, Frances [Outdoor landscape with figures] Mural Oil on Canvas Cook County Juv. Dept. [Ho], Girls’ Lunchroom, Shows Artist at work
4 Baumstein, Sidney Room Plan for a Conference and Lounge Room Graphics   University of Illinois (Urbana) New Agriculture Bldg., 4th Floor
5 Bekker, David Corner 34th Street Easel    
6 Bekker, David Immortality-Wisdom Easel   Chicago Park District
7 Bekker, David Wake Easel    
8 Beman, Rolf Grey Day Easel Oil  
9 Beman, Rolf My Room Easel Oil  
10 Beman, Rolf Out the Window Easel Oil  
11 Bennett, Rainey Apple Harvest & Farm Animals Mural   University of Chicago Medical Unit, Crippled Boys’ Ward
12 Bennett, Rainey Divers & Fanciful Fish Mural   University of Chicago Medical Unit, Crippled Boys’ Ward
13 Bennett, Rainey Garden Entrance Easel Watercolor  
14 Bennett, Rainey Knights in Tournament/Rip Van Winkle Mural   University of Chicago Medical Unit, Crippled Boys’ Ward
15 Bennett, Rainey Rip Van Winkle [in progress] Mural   In same photo assistant Clifton Morrison is at work on another panel, title not given
16 Berkman, Bernice   Tapestry    
17 Berkman, Bernice Municipal Bathing Easel    
18 Biesel, C. Old German Building Easel Oil  
19 Bohrod, Aaron Arkansas Home Easel Oil, on canvas Rockford Art Assn., Rockford, Illinois
20 Bohrod, Aaron Landscape in Winter Easel Oil 30 x 36”
21 Bohrod, Aaron Under the Elevated Easel Oil 24 x 38”
22 Breinin, Raymond The Bridge Easel Oil  
23 Breinin, Raymond Fantastique Easel Watercolor  
24 Breinin, Raymond Interior with Chair Easel Watercolor  
25 Breinin, Raymond Landscape with Horses Easel   Exhibited at Art Institute, “Art for the Public” show, 1938
26 Breinin, Raymond Lunch Hour Easel Oil on Wood  
27 to 30 Britton, Edgar Evolution of Mankind: 4 Details     Lane Technical High School. Original work was 6 panels
31 Caldwell, Ken Drafting Table Furniture Wood Name of Artist appears to have been added later & may be wrong
32 Cater, William Tete-a-Tete Easel Oil on canvas?  
33 Coan, Francis The Children’s World (section) Mural Oil on canvas Hild Branch Library, 2 panels, each 9 x34”
34 Corrozzo, Alex [Abstract Rug]   Rag Rug  
35 Dalstrom, Gustaf Animals and Flowers [a.k.a. Rural Landscape] Mural Oil on canvas Laurel School, Wilmette 9’9” x 23’
36 Dalstrom, Gustaf Pastoral Scene Mural Oil  
37 Dalstrom, Gustaf [Winter-Spring-Summer] 3 Murals   Mavigliano lists murals ‘Winter-Summer-Fall” at Manley High School which may be these panels. Work seen in progress.
38 DeDiego, Julio Balloons, Balloons for the City of Confidence Easel? Oil on Canvas?  
39 DeDiego, Julio [Untitled] Easel? Watercolor?  
40 Delson, Robert Directional Marker: Bear Sculpture Wood Brookfield Zoo 2’ x 3’4”, mounted on post
41 Doty, Anna G. [Three-paneled screen] Furniture/ Graphics Wood, Painted  
42 Dyer, Briggs Winter Landscape Easel Oil on canvas  
43 Ellison, Walter [Untitled Easel    
44 Evertsen, Kenneth Sliding-Door Cabinet Furniture Wood  
45 Gilbertson, Warren Doe Sculpture Carved Stone Chicago Zoological Society Brookfield, Illinois
46 Hackett, Malcolm [Farm near Galena]? Easel    
47 Hackett, Malcolm [Tugboat and Pier] Easel Gouache  
48 Hauge, Mary Chambers [Children Raking Leaves] Mural   Perry School
49 Hauge, Mary Chambers Winter Mural   Dixon School, Auditorium
50 Hendricksen, Ralph At the Theater Easel Oil Rockford Art Assn., Exhibit, Oct. 1938
51 Hendricksen, Ralph Induction of a Recruit Mural    
52 Hendricksen, Ralph Induction of a Recruit Mural   Shows work in progress, artist in front
53 Hendricksen, Ralph Water/Earth Murals Tempera Gorton Elementary, Lake Forest, IL
54 Hendricksen, Ralph Fire/Air [companion pieces to #53] Murals Tempera Gorton Elementary
55 Hikode End Table Furniture Birch or Maple  
56 Hoyer, Thorvald Arnst Green Meadows Easel    
57 Jacobson, Emmanuel Drama Easel Watercolor  
58 Jacobson, Emmanuel Early History of Oak Park Mural   Horace Mann School, Oak Park. Shows artist with work in progress
59 Jacobson, Emmanuel Landing of the Pilgrims Mural   J.H. Freeman School, West Aurora, IL. Mavigliano attributes this to Ann Michalov.
60 Kahn, Max Anne Easel Lithograph  
61 Kahn, Max Horse Show Oil    
62 Kahn, Max Young Girl Easel Lithograph  
63 Kauffman, Camille A The Ballet Easel Oil  
64 Kauffman, Camille A Life of Burbank Mural    
65 Kelpe, Karl Early Farmers and Pioneers (Detail) Mural Oil on Canvas Hawthorne School, Oak Park (Now Percy Julian School)
66 Kelpe, Karl Typical Products of Southern Illinois Mural Oil on Canvas Southern Illinois, University (In Storage)
67 Krebs, Kenneth Madame Bovet Mural Oil 36 x 40”
68 Lidov, Arthur [Abraham Lincoln] Easel?   Pair of images: Lincoln splitting rails, slaves kneels at his feet.
69 Lidov, Arthur Founding of Hyde Park [Mural?]    
70 Lidov, Arthur [Untitled] Easel Pencil? Charcoal?  
71 Loeb, Sidney [Abraham Lincoln] Sculpture Terra Cortta?  
72 Marzolf, Les Folding Field Table Furniture Wood  
73 Michalov, Ann [Untitled] Mural   See also #152 and #153, from same building
74 Millman, Edward Deserted Well Easel Egg Tempera  
75 Millman, Edward Windswept Barn Easel Egg Tempera  


to 81

Millman, Edward Women’s Contribution to American Progress [a.k.a Outstanding American Women] Mural Fresco 5 photo of details; #81 may be a study for mural; it is slightly variant
82 Murray, Hester Miller World of Children Mural Oil on Canvas Irving School, Oak Park 4 panels before install
83 Murray, Hester Miller Plastic Mural Oil on Canvas  
84 Niederkorn, Lem W. Plastic Chair Furniture Plastic  
85 to 86 Niederkorn, Lem W. Plexiglas Chair Furniture Plexiglas 85. Component parts, disassembled 86. Assembled
87 to 88 Niederkorn, Lem W. Wood Chair Furniture Birch/Maple 2 Variant views. Same design as plexiglas chairs, above
89 O’Brien, Catherine Work and Play Mural   Not listed by Mavigliano Photo shows cafeteria, with mural on far wall
90 Overholt, Claire Design for Teachers’ Lounge Graphics Pen/ink on Design of hypothetical room utilizing furniture appear elsewhere
91 Pain, Louise Carolyn Mona Brown Memorial Sculpture Ceramic Panel Over auditorium door, location not noted
92 Pain, Louise Carolyn Girl Chased by Boy with Snake Sculpture Ceramic Panel  
93 Pollock, Merlin F. Industry [a.k.a. Steel Mill] Mural Fresco Tilden Technical H.S.
94 Pougalis, Constantine Girl with Fruits Easel Oil  
95 Schoolcraft, Freeman [Indiana Man and Woman] Sculpture   Two free-standing pieces
96 Schucker, Charles L. Park Prophet Easel    
97 Schwartz, William S. Village Park Easel Watercolor  
98 Schwartz, William S. [Untitled] Easel    
99 Simon, Henry Miners Easel? Tempera  
100 Simon, Herny Oranges[a.k.a. Fruit Pickers] Mural Egg Tempera on Gesso Panel Cook County Hospital
101 Simon, Henry With Malice Toward None... Easel?    
102 Siporin, Mitchell Back O’ the Yards Series: Old Brewery Easel Watercolor  
103 Siporin, Mitchell Back O’ the Yards Series: Polish Family on Prairie Easel Oil on Canvas  
104 Siporin, Mitchell Coal Pickers Easel Gouache  
105 Siporin, Mitchell Family Portrait Easel Lithograph  
106 Siporin, Mitchell Mother and Child      
107 Siporin, Mitchell Prairie Poets Easel Charcoal?  
108 Siporin, Mitchell The Teaching of Art Mural Fresco Lane Tech High School
109 Spears, Ethel Park Mural Silk Screen  
110 Spears, Ethel Park and Country Scenes Mural Oil on Canvas University of Illinois Medical Unit, Girls’ Ward Shows four Panels
111 Spears, Ethel The Snow Queen Mural Oil on Canvas Hans Christian Anderson Playground. 4 Panels
112 Topchevsky, Alex Characters from Children’s Literature Mural Fresco O’Toole School Library
113 Topchevsky, Morris American’s Children’s Studies [a.k.a North American Children Working] Mural   Holmes School, Oak Park
114 Topchevsky, Morris Radio Easel? Oil Abraham Lincoln Center
115 Topchevsky, Morris Wheel Easel? Oil Abraham Lincoln Center
116 to 117 Umlauf, Charles [Unknown. Fountain with Woman and Three Children] Sculpture Cast Concrete Counter in rear is by John Winters, Cook County Hospital 116 to 117
118 Ursulescu, Michael Genevieve and Suki Easel Oil on Canvas Rockford Art Association, Rockford, Illinois
119 Vavak, Joseph Dispossessed Easel Oil on Canvas  
120 Vavak, Joseph Intolerance Easel Oil  
121 Vavak, Joseph Still Life Easel Oil  
122 Vestal, Don Arm Chair Furniture Birch  
123 Vestal, Don Arm Chairs and Table Furniture Wood Table by Saarinen 8 Chairs, design seen in #122
124 Vestal, Don Magazine Rack Furniture Wood  
125 Vestal, Don Palos Park Desk Furniture Wood  
126 Vestal, Don Tables and Benches Furniture Wood  
127 Vestal, Don Wooden Fruit Design Wood  
128 Viviano, Emmanuel [Fountain?] Sculpture   Mavigliano Lists Viviano doing ‘Statue of a Girl and Girl with Fish
129 Waltrip, Mildred History of Aviation Mural   Scott Air Force Base(not Listed by Mavigliano)
130 Weisenborn, Rudolph Fight Against Soil Erosion Diorama   Detail from piece
131 Weisenborn, Rudolph [Untitled] Easel    
132 White, Charles W. [Untitled] Mural   Mavigliano gives location as unknown CPL Branch. Is this what was put at Hall Branch, Listed by Mavigliano as by Charles Davis?
133 Winters, John Richard Bird House and Feeder   Wood See also #116, 117, 157 showing Winters’ title Counter
134 Winters, John Richard Children’s Chair Furniture Maple  
135 Winters, John Richard Moveable Book Rack Furniture Birch  
136 Winters, John Richard Rooster and Weather Vane   Wood, Metal  
137 Wolf, Viola Design for Living Room/Lounge Graphics Pen/Ink/Color on Paper  
138 Anonymous American Eagles Sculpture Precast Concrete Illinois National Guard Armories. Described by Mavigliano, p. 179.
139 Anonymous U.S. Air Force Recruitment [“Technicians Support the Wings”] Diorama Wood/Paper? Copy of this photo also in John Walley Papers
140 Unidentified Plate and Cups Design? Birch Wood  
141 Unidentified Pot, Design of Giraffes Design? Clay?  
142 Unidentified Bookshelves and Chairs Furniture Wood  
143 Unidentified Chair: Arm Chair Furniture Wood/Plywood  
144 Unidentified Chair: Side Chair Furniture Wood/Plywood  
145 Unidentified Chair: Side Chair, Upholstered Furniture Wood/Fabric  
146 Unidentified Chest of Drawers Furniture Wood  
147 Unidentified Desk: Teacher’s Desk Furniture Wood  
148 Unidentified Sofa Furniture Wood Frame/Fabric Cushions  
149 Unidentified Table, Square Furniture Wood  
150 Unidentified Table and Chairs Furniture Wood/Cane  
151 Unidentified Table and Chairs for Children, with Play Dishes Furniture Table & Chairs: Sycamore and Hickory. Dish: Hardwood  
152 Unidentified [American Indians] Mural   #152, 153, and 73 are all in the same building, unidentified.
153 Unidentified [Animals of Foreign Countries] Mural    
154 Unidentified [Java] Mural Fresco? Oil on Wall?  
155 Unidentified Freedom, Not Concentration Poster    
156 Unidentified [Seated Woman] Sculpture    
157 Edwin Boyd Johnson; John Winters; Charles Umlauf   Johnson, Mural; Winters, Ceramic Counter; Umlauf, Sculpture   Installation at Cook County Hospital. Includes all three pieces
158 Sidney Loeb, [Work in Progress]     Center, works in sculpture division.
159 Sidney Loeb [Work in Progress]     Center, works in sculpture division.
160     Front door   Federal Art Gallery: 211 North Michigan Avenue
161 to 164     Four shots of interior of gallery.   Federal Art Gallery: 211 North Michigan Avenue
165     John Walley gives lecture.   South Side Art Center
166     Office Workers?   South Side Art Center

Series 3: WPA Federal Art Project Items

75.1200 Leonard Havens, South Chicago. Watercolor and pencil.
90.4.2 Reva Jackman, Mother and Child. Colored Drawing.
90.4.3 Max Kahn, Anne. Color Lithograph. (See Photo WPA 60)
90.4.4 Fredrick Remahl, On the Hill. Oil on Canvas.
75.1199 Ellsworth Young, Coal Yard. Watercolor.
Print this page