The Great Depression found the Weston family snug in the Adirondacks, warmed by the woodstove and nourished by root vegetables through the long winters. From 1936 to 1938 Weston worked at a fever pitch on 840 square feet of murals commissioned by the Treasury Relief Art Project for the lobby of the General Services Administration building in Washington, D.C. He designed twenty-two panels that depict dynamic moments in the federal construction process and convey the message that America’s vitality and resourcefulness would help it recover from the Depression. Leavened with humor, the murals include a send-up of Grant Wood’s American Gothic under an oversized pair of pliers.

Driven by the urge “to get it right,” Weston used a detail-rich technique. The precision of this finely patterned realism effected a permanent, tectonic shift in his style. <previous page / next page>

(Pliers detail) Supply Branch of Procurement, 1937, oil on canvas, 10’x20’. The north wall of Weston’s mural in the General Services Administration Building, Washington, D.C.

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Copyright © 2005 The Harold Weston Foundation