Book Review: Posters of the WPA

Creativity in Hard Times

A wonderful book of Works Progress Administration posters. Only about two thousand of these survive from the millions printed and 280 are shown in color. They are not posters in the billboard size that everyone is familiar with but mostly small twenty-two by fourteen inches, quickly designed and printed by silkscreen.

Because they were easy and cheap to produce any government or civic department could use the medium, from the New York Foreign Trade Zone, the Seattle Children's Theatre to Stop the Spread of Syphilis, the design styles are just as varied from the whimsical to the stark graphic statement.

Author DeNoon has done his research and explains how the WPA poster division worked, other contributors provide more extra detail. The back of the book has a Portfolio of eight artists. The work of the WPA ended in 1943 and fifteen of their war posters are shown. If you want to follow the story have a look at 'Dig for Victory' by William Bird and Harry Rubenstein, this informative book has 150 posters designed for the Home Front.

Social historians and graphic artists will enjoy 'Posters of the WPA' and incidentally I would suggest that anyone interested in book design gets a copy. The book (designed by Henry Vizcara) is an excellent example of how a graphic visual book should look, the grid design, column widths, typography of the headlines, text and captions, use of white space, paper and printing all work together to produce this lovely book.

Posters of the WPA is available at Amazon (US | CA | UK | FR | FR | IT | ES

Posters of the WPA - 01
Typical spread

Posters of the WPA - 02

Posters of the WPA - 03

Posters of the WPA - 04

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