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When Art Worked: The New Deal, Art, and Democracy Hardcover – November 3, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Rizzoli; First Edition edition (November 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0847830896
  • ISBN-13: 978-0847830893
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 11.5 x 11.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #777,616 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"As usual, Roger Kennedy has hit the nail on the head with this remarkably clear look at the art that came out of one of our darkest hours, an art that not only expressed the struggle, but now stands for much of how we understand it."
- Ken Burns

"Oh, what a gorgeous and informative new book by Roger Kennedy: When Art Worked: The New Deal, Art, and Democracy---just out from Rizzoli.  The WPA made infrastructure and made art, and made them together, and revived America. Roger has the inside story as no one else could. Inspiring stuff at every level.  A true long-now book.  Its bright red cover calls for a Christmas tree to put over it."
- Stewart Brand, Founder of The Whole Earth Catalog

About the Author

Roger G. Kennedy is a former director of the National Park Service and director emeritus of the National Museum of American History. He has written numerous books and articles on the history and architecture of the United States.

David Larkin is an editor, designer, and authority on vernacular styles. His previous Rizzoli books include American Masterworks, Farmhouse, Barn, and American Home.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Stewart Brand on November 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Art and infrastructure make a profound combination. Roosevelt's New Deal set out not just to rebuild America but to revisualize it, employing (and often creating) the finest artists of the time.

The book's images soar, and Roger Kennedy's inside knowledge of how the whole process worked make this a powerful book for thinking about how to rebuild America now.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Drew Shaw on January 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
During a career that has focused on what might be called the flip side of American history, e.g. pirates, French vernacular architecture, Aaron Burr, western forest fires, Roger Kennedy has consistently called attention to people and events that have otherwise slipped through the cracks of common knowledge. He does it again with "When Art Worked," a massive compilation of the New Deal arts program and the reasons for their being. Not only does Roger open our eyes to the people behind post office murals and now, taken-for-granted landmarks like Red Rocks amphitheatre in Colorado, he makes us ask questions that apply today. What is the meaning of "happiness" in a democracy? Are today's sweeping reforms really sweeping? A thoughtful, albeit heavy, read (The book must weigh 10 pounds.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sheila Collins on February 22, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"When Art Worked" is a powerful indictment of the elitist commercialism that dominates the art world today and an inspiring paean to a time when art was democratized--that is, made available to the vast majority of those who are now locked out of museums, art galleries, and live drama by virtue of their cost. It is also much more. The book not only covers the major arts-funded programs of the New Deal, but shows how artistic aesthetics were woven into the fabric of everything the New Deal built, including public buildings, public parks and playgrounds and even government propaganda. The book is filled with beautiful reproductions of much of the New Deal art products, many in full color. It is more than a coffee table decoration. It is a book that everyone concerned about our failing democracy should read!

Sheila Collins, author/co-editor, "When Government Helped: Learning from the Successes and Failures of the New Deal" (Oxford University Press, 2013).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Patricia P. Shuhart on June 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book tells and shows how years ago people were given work. They were fine craftsmen and many of the projects stand today the same as when they were built. Wonderful pictures.
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