This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
(LT850) From the Municipal Building studios. Dedication of the final stages of "a project to modernize and streamline your city station": the presentation of sculptures and murals by the Federal Arts Project of New York City. Program introduced by Melvin --. The WNYC Concert Orchestra performs Still's "Afro-American Symphony," conducted by Macklin Marrow.
Ezra McIntosh, the "voice of the theater," introduces the "interesting personalities" in the studio:
Architect Eugene Schoen applauds the Federal Arts Project for placing before the general public works of art which had been reserved for the elite: the common man was able to see what the common artist was able to depict. Plea for the cooperation between the architect, the muralist, and the sculptor: modern buildings with classical and reactionary decorations, old-fashioned buildings with modern decorations, for example the Municipal Building. The time has come when architects and sculptors and painters should recognize that they are each one arm of one and the same aesthetic idealism; they should express in a unified way the things they feel in common. We should not know where the structure ends, through shades, shadow, and color. An integral whole is the acme of perfection.
WNYC Concert Orchestra performs ballet music from Casanova.
(LT3995) Designer Russel Wright talks about the muralist and commercial artist. Only the non-commercial artist can dedicate his time fully to his art. Different artistic disciplines are influenced by one another, work together to create a national art. Industrial arts have a great public scope today.
Artist, lecturer, and writer Carl R. Holty comments on the dedication of the murals and new art and what it means for society in "enriching the human mind." Art elevates the human being. Abstract painters show that there is reality in colors, reality in lines. The artist is an eye of humanity.
Stuart Davis speaks on behalf of the American Artists Congress about the murals and WNYC. "I'm glad of this opportunity to speak ... I say it is a crucial cultural importance when a city institution like the Municipal Broadcasting Company comes forward in sponsorship of abstract art. This action reflects the progressive character of the present city administration under the leadership of our great Mayor, Fiorello H. La Guardia. It is in harmony with the broad democratic cultural policy of WNYC in giving to the people of the city of New York the best in music with a strong accent on contemporary American composers. By its sponsorship of abstract art, WNYC has taken an action which is fitting for a cultural institution in the greatest city in the world."
(LT850) The American Artist Congress is an example of the affirmation of freedom of expression; one of Hitler's first acts was to outlaw abstract art. Certain reactionary museum-critic-dealer combines in the US have also outlawed abstract art because of its progressive spirit through subtle propaganda and refusal of sponsorship and purchase. It is only the support given by the Federal Arts Project and the program of democracy in art and culture of the new artists' organization that have saved abstract art from extinction. To establish a real people's art which will include all the forms of artistic expression. The progressive artist societies recognize the important influence of abstract expression on modern conception of the real world. The Federal Arts Project is the exclusive force which has raised the level of artistic culture in the US. Without it, art is doomed. Private patronage is essentially reactionary, concerned more with economic investment than culture. The virtual destruction of the Arts Project by congress is one of the blackest reactionary blows against the American people. There is a grim humor in the fact that at the very time congress has destroyed the Arts Project, they appropriated $2500 for an oil painting to hang in the White House -- of ex-president Hoover. Tonight is a concrete example of the accomplishment of the Arts Project. Some hesitant applause.
[An abrupt pause in the presentation at this point could mean Davis's speech was interrupted, possibly due to its content.]
WNYC Concert Orchestra performs "Overture to an Abstract Mural."
Official presentation of the murals and sculpture by Mrs. Audrey McMahon, New York State Director of the Federal Arts Project. Four men have made these murals, not separately, but jointly, coordinating the elements in to one entity. The works are as visually essential as the microphones. "We believe that all directions in painting have value, but only when used in relation to the architecture and purpose of the room or the building in which they are planned."
Macintosh: "We of WNYC like the murals." References to WNYC operations, role of WPA in revitalization of the station.
New York Times article "Project Teachers Exhibit Art Work," 1939-08-02, describes the broadcast:
"This evening at 8 o'clock, the municipal radio station, WNYC, will broadcast a ceremony dedicating a newly installed set of murals. Four in number, these were painted, under the sponsorship of the Federal Art Project, by Louis Schanker, Stuart Davis, Hans Wicht, and Byron Browne. Mr. Schanker's mural, the largest of the series and called, "Music," has been placed in the lobby of the station, while the other three, bearing in each case the simple title "Abstraction," are in broadcasting studios B, C, and D.
"A statement issued from the WPA Federal Art Project headquarters explains that these artists, while each is responsible for his own particular design, "worked as a group in the decoration of the entire studio, coordinating architecture, interior dedication of the entire studio, coordinating architecture, interior decoration, furnishings and the murals into one modern functional unity.
"Speakers on this evening's broadcast will include Audrey McMahon, director of the Federal Art Project for New York City; Russell Wright, industrial designer; Eugene Schoen, architect; Carl Holty, art critic, and Stuart Davis, artist. The announcer is Ezra McIntosh. A symphony orchestra will also participate."
For more on Stuart Davis and this broadcast please see:
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 5828
Municipal archives id: LT3995
This is a machine-generated transcript. Text is unformatted and may contain errors.
Who's. Your earthly. Good. Morning when evening ladies and gentlemen we greet your from our studios my atop the municipal building where we're about to witness the completion of a project to modernize them scream line your city state from eighteen months ago a dedicated our new equipment and studio tonight we celebrate the final touches the acceptance of the murals and filters that entered the station by the federal art project of the city of New York marking the completion of this unusual undertaking we hope to convey to you with some of the pleasure we are enjoying in the form of an patron of these beautiful words and although we use the term formal in order to make this occasion a bright one for you as well as brought out we have asked as Raima comes out better known the or perhaps as the voice of the theater to introduce informally the interesting personalities well with us here and make that the first of the evening rather than a formal one but before getting along with Mr Mackintosh our Maestro Maclin morrow's dance before the W. N.Y.C. comes with office but is that on is rare that there are about the play that's gets off from William Graham stills Afro-American symphony. Poor. Poor poor poor. Poor poor poor. Poor poor. Poor. The on. Court. Or are. You. The is. The poor the sick the poor. The poor the book. You're poor. Poor. Poor the poor the sick. The poor the poor poor poor the poor. The for the poor the poor the poor the the. The bootblack the foods. It is and gentlemen Mr as remark and off thanks Melvin and thank you Maestro that was as fine a musical sendoff as anyone could ask for on you know ladies and gentlemen I'm not quite sure why I was selected to introduce your guest this evening I see a list of names and faces here that you wouldn't ordinarily expected to find all together at the Metropolitan that is I wouldn't but I might as well confess that I'm not usually to be found around there either but I don't know about art professionally with the large size books bottom of Les I'm not called upon to say anything about it there are however several people here in the studio mill I think can tell us something on the subject for example there's Eugene Jane nationally known architect when you step over here Mr Shane ladies and gentlemen Mr Eugene Jane thank you Mr Mackintosh when the United States government introduced the federal Ott's project it Bill did better than it knew because for the first time in the history of our country we have been able to place before all the general public works of art that had there to fall been almost exclusively reserved to the elite. The common man in the street was able to see what the common artist of the street was able to depict and to enjoy and like it I am here today to make a special plea for the cooperation between the architect the muralist and the sculptor we have been perhaps friendly enemies but very widely apart in our handling of the problem of creative design in in large farms the architect has gone his way the muralist his and the sculptor has also taken a different path in fact there has been so little co-operation between them that when a building is erected and decorated sometimes the mural artist in the sculptor do not even know what was in the architect's mind or he in their And we find modern buildings with classical and. Extremely reactionary decorations in them we find very old fashioned buildings with extremely modern decorations in them as for example the very building in which these magnificent murals have been placed in our own large municipal government building it seems to me that the time has come when architects and sculptors and painters should recognize that they are each one. A sort of a three creation of one and the same aesthetic idealism. And when they will have gotten together sufficiently to be able to express in a unified way the things that they feel in common when the architectural structure will be so arranged that no one will be able to realize where the structure and that's where the sculptor introduces the plane of light and dark that create the shadows in his ability and well the muralist adds that color to both the form created by the architect and the shades and shadows created by the sculptor that the building becomes an imprint go home we will have reached some stage in the development of modern art that in very ancient times was considered the acme of perfection. Of. Thank you very much Mr Shane and we hope that time when I belong hands it's a great deal of fun to talk like this but there's hardly a conversation that won't be just as I'm driving laughter some really fine music every artist fastened on Maestro matters about time and what you're going to play Mr Williams Michael and mother are conducting the W. N.Y.C. concert all construct in the ballet music from Casanova by seems to know. Poor. Poor. The end of. The pool. With. Or are or are. The poor. Poor. Poor poor poor. Poor. The Earth. You know while we're going to. Go off. Then of course our conductor AMISOM ours a big man in more ways than one I only this afternoon at luncheon Maximov I was paying the check when a man walked by our table and lighted a cigar with a ten dollar bill Maestro watched him for a moment then without batting an eye he took out his wallet with a cigarette in his mouth and lit it with a check for the thousand dollars. I could go on telling stories like this about our folks here at the stations of quite a while but here someone whom I'm sure you will find much more interesting a gentleman who was had a great deal to do with the industrial designing and exhibits of the world's past and one who I feel sure will have important things to say to you ladies and gentlemen may I present Mr Russell writes Thank Mr McIntyre the work being presented tonight it certainly excellent and the use to which it has been applied here at the studio is both suitable and successful I wish that many of the radio audience could see how well the murals look with the chairs and the music stands and the people in front of them but I should like to take this opportunity to speak of another you to which the work of these artists can be put to service performed by these and other artists of the deputy a project of which the artists themselves are perhaps unaware that service of much greater scope than the painting of walls and public buildings and of much greater importance to the American people and I'm speaking of the intangible contribution made by the painters of good caliber in any country to the industrial arts and craft arts of that country this is a service that the public can't see only an occasional critic and usually keen well observe it or a rare professional may admit it. Now you know that the handicraft artist is have artist and happy Labor the craft portion of his work takes more time in the craft portion of the painter's work it's the same with the industrial designers use only one half artist the rest of him is partly thought of an engineer and partly sort of a businessman in the commercial artist is a similar kind of hybrid it is only the art of the work quietly and it's to the oh without commercial responsibility who can devote his entire time to the development of his talent to the training of his skill in the use of form line and color Now I know that today there is a growing tendency to disparage the efforts in the production of the so-called easel painters the garrote artists they call them some say that a more socially conscious world has no place for them some say that this sort of work should become an avocation in the new world some say that painting is a lost art with the development of photography but I say that the world today and tomorrow will always medieval painters of the caliber of some already fallen steward by the project like Stuart Davis here William de Kooning MacSpeech back Byron Brown our show Gorky in Balcombe green I believe that the work of men like these forms of sort of laboratory of experimentation for our art in our time as one of hundreds of designers for industry in the US today I know that when I see the work of one of our better painters particularly the abstraction this I am greatly stimulated by because these men too are working with abstract form line and color my own daily diet. Because I find them working in the same direction that I try to push my own work but when telephone calls appointments and all sorts of interruption these men are performing the experiment I should like to have had time for from the poor painting I learn what kind of form and color to avoid from the better work I carry away a lesson that will help to improve my own work it's a well known fact that European modern architecture started the same time as and learned much from the early European abstract painters European advertising art found new life with inspiration received from painters like Brock's and Picasso you can't call the easel painter exactly the source of all modern industrial and commercial work it's more like a laboratory work goals and standards are established it is always been this way certain artists working under stirred in solitude and privacy developed a significant work which becomes a the key to the art of their time without the same formalisation or efficiency the process might be said to be something like Washington's Board of Agriculture a Bureau of Standards to pass on their findings to the farmers in the consumers now the government projects have greatly stimulated and improved American painting this improvement will filter out to the public through the many channels of commercial art whether they know it or not but he's allowed it then the commercial law that both work together to serve our people with a useful art expressive of our life hand in hand they are now well on their way to establishing a strong good national art we have needed for so long. I think the only hope that these projects will be continued for the sake of the industrial arts which have such great public schools in our country today. Thank you very very much Mr Wright I wonder if you get the same pleasure I do in having a famous lecturer right in the room with you where you have a chance to sit down and listen to him just talk rather than here over the heads of a crowd while he assumes he is best professional manner and delivers himself a little ration Well we have such a person here with us this evening besides enjoying a fine reputation as a speaker Carr our whole team is a well known artist and writer let's have a little chat with him for a few minutes later gentlemen Mr Carro like you Mr Mackintosh I can assure you of that if this occasion was exceptional to you it's as exceptional to me because while I have done a good deal of lecturing I have never been present at a dedication of living work by living men before through I've had some unusual experiences you frequently do a dedications of work you know but they're quite bizarre I remember one time as a student hearing the police band of the city of Paris and France struggling valiantly through Did they see. A. Rather sugar coated monument had been raised to the memory of the late lamented dead as usual and I also remember the incident when the very reactionary Tory Prefect of Police Mr Kemp at that time I believe placed a wreath over the daughter of the revolutionary poet highway some sixty or seventy five years after his death. But the unusual thing about this dedication tonight is that that is not bizarre The unusual thing is that it's fitting oddly enough it's fitting it's very real it's exactly as things should be and as they rarely are and tonight they happen to be sold now of course I listen to Mr Russell right with the greatest of interest because years ago lecturing on the subject I've tried frequently and never succeeded as well as he in stating the case of the uses of the discoveries of the got artists or or punk to fool artists or whatever you want to call him at that time the man with the whistle pants and the black tie running down the streets with a cabbage in his hand for his lunch but there is perhaps something to say for the artist the abstract artist. Etc etc Besides that you know there is another side to it what is whimsical for that Mr Mackintosh is something that has to do with human knowledge and all of the richness that the human mind has been given by its more gift its brothers let us say for instance every new art that is discovered is a matter of bringing into the consciousness of the explorers in that field some new bit of knowledge now of course a good many things have been known for a time in the Mario for instance that apples fell from trees along before we discovered the law of gravity but when someone became conscious of it it enriched the human mind and when a new form of painting or a new form of music or a new principle of engineering is discovered outside of its uses besides its uses it sharpens and refines the human mind and elevates the human being himself as an individual and makes him of course a better guarded against the vicissitudes which he has to support during his lifetime now the abstract painters here have sold or shown rather that there is such a thing as reality and colors reality and lines reality and certain things that red is really a red whether we make a red jacket out of it or what we use it just as a red welt proportion those are many of the discoveries those are some of the some of the very many discoveries that might be used and then might not be used that is practically used of course we do use electricity. And incidentally I guess we don't really know what it is but I mean we do always something to Benjamin Franklin for having caught it on a key I mean cutting out a key and despite the fact that we use this power we also have the knowledge that there is such a power which is exceedingly important and so the artist is more or less and I love humanity and taking care of him is like taking care of your eye it's not someone that one can let die away or rot away continually certainly not that. A friend of mine once upon a time was saying that society for one hundred years of neglect at its best artists and most creative talents and if that goes on forever we won't have been but now at present we have some vision of the fact that something can be done and a contact made directly. Between the public and the artists in their time as for instance these very handsome bureaus show us tonight so that's about all I want to say well thank you very much Mr Holder will remember. There's been a lot of discussion about art and particularly the murals adorning the walls of our studios and I think it's high time that we met one of the artists and sounds the mural in Studio B. is not by any means the first one painted my steward neighbors even I have heard of through Davis I think it was in one nine hundred thirty two with Mr Davis but you painted the mural in Radio City Music Hall Mr Mackintosh and also I don't want to forget that want to get their share in the World's Fair in the communications fairly well in any case introductions are in order ladies and gentlemen of the radio audience may I present to you Mr Stewart David thank you Mr Mike in time I'm glad of this opportunity to speak to speak on behalf of the American artists Congress I want crime national chairman at this dedication of the new murals and decoration of the W. N.Y.C. studios. I think the occasion has a great representative importance which involves the subject of democracy in general and democracy and culture in particular it is also an occasion of crucial importance to American art as a whole I make this statement advisedly because I'm Urals Here are examples of abstract art which is the most advanced and potentially social art because of its progressive spirit it has been bitterly fought and suppressed for twenty five years by the Tory monopolists of culture in the United States I say it as a crucial cultural importance when a city institution like the municipal broadcasting company comes forward in sponsorship of abstract thought this action reflects the progressive character of the present city administration under the leadership of our great Mayor Fiorello Wadia it is in harmony with the broad democratic cultural policy of W N Y C and giving to the people of the city of New York the best in music with a strong accent on contemporary American composers by its sponsorship of abstract art W N Y Z has taken an action which is fitting for a cultural institution in the greatest city in the world and the world center of art it has added strength to the morale of the progressive. Art of society and Union the American artist conduit and the United American artist because by this action of the given concrete example of the principle of freedom of expression which these organizations affirm one of Hitler's Third Act but the outlaw abstract art and degree and if they had an art of political propaganda and an art of naturalistic formalism. Certain reactionary museum critics dealer Tom vines in the United States have also outlawed abstract art because of its progressive spirit that large suppresses it by decree the American cultural reactionaries do it by subtle propaganda and whispering campaign arts circles and refusal of sponsorship and purchase. It is only the support given by the federal art project and the program of democracy in arts and culture of the new artist organizations that are saved abstract art from extinction the artists Congress and the United American artists know that there are many kinds of art which fulfill different social needs and they are supporting a program to bring all these are to the people to establish a real people's art a democratic art which will include all of forms of artistic expression abstract art is already modified the shape and color of most of the products of industry as Mr Russell right has already told you the other progressive artist societies are among the first to recognize the important contributions which abstract art is making in artistic terms to our modern conception of the real world the federal art project is the exclusive force which is raise the level of artistic culture in the United States in the recent past without it art is doomed because private patronage as neither the main Now the coordination nor And this is the most important the wills of support Americanised private patronage exceptions to the contrary is essentially reactionary concerned more with economic investment and soldiers the virtual destruction of the art project by Congress in the last few weeks is one of the blackest reactionary blows against the American people made by the governor Republican coalition the productive filter of thousands of workers in the arts is destroyed by this reactionary about. There is a grim in the fact that the very time Congress has destroyed the art project they appropriated twenty five hundred dollars run on oil paintings in the white out what was the subject of this oil painting. Ex-president over part in the face of the reactionary. Says that progress the United States we have here tonight a concrete example of accomplishment of the project. Thank you very much Mr Davis now the officer is reading the play and I believe there's something special in store for us much value in honor of the dedication this evening great prominent young American composer will conduct the W. N.Y.C. concert August and the playing of his own composition. To an abstract. You're the poor. Poor. Poor. Poor. Poor. Poor. Poor. The for. The first. Or with the US The US. Realm the poor. The sick. The poor. The poor poor. Poor. Poor. Poor. The an the poor poor poor for. The poor poor. Poor. Poor. The of. The poor. The out for are. The poor for. The the. The the. You're. The and the poor poor poor. During what was a. White boy. The image of. The poor. It is Buraq at war or to talk at MIT. The brand new morning looking forward to a special presentation of the murals and sculptures of the station by Mrs Audrey McMahon New York state director of the bedrock ladies and gentleman Mrs McMahon thank you Mr Madden passion I'm very happy to be here on behalf of the Federal Law Project works project ministrations in the first presentation of our work ever to be broadcast over the air I'm proud that it is the work of the Federal Law Project all those that have been a part of this unusual Ana. I'm sure that the artists on the federal art project as well as hundreds of our sponsors in the public of this great station listening tonight are heartened as we are by the enthusiasts in which has been expressed here for men have made these mural not separately as individual S. but jointly as members of a group of artists who are working together planned the decoration of the entire studio coordinating architecture interior decoration and the murals into one modern functional and detail the result is a series of murals each completed its self yet closely related to the other we have four murals which are part of the radio station as visually essential to it as the chairs you sit on or the microphone and which I'm speaking the members of this group are hands where Lui shank us to it Davis and Byron Brown each an accomplished artist working on the burr going Dela head of the mural division of this project in a cooperative tradition which is the fundamental premise of a federal law project that abstract murals are used here while more conventional types of murals are painted in a multitude of other locations demonstrates the practical approach taken by the federal art project to all types of art we believe that all directions and painting have value but only when used in relation to the architecture and purpose of the room or the building in which they are planned only in a program such as this is it possible to attain so democratic and functional an approach in our production and now we hope against hope that we may be continued allowed to continue to serve the community in this way. Then just since it is largely due to mail a guardia that station W. N.Y.C. has grown from a one room studio to the outstanding city owned radio station in the United States which would like to thank him for permitting us to play a part in this development I should also like to thank Morris Novick director and Issac Bramber chief engineer of this station for their wonderful cooperation and interest during the painting of these murals Mr know that May I at this time acting on behalf of the Federal Law Project of the work project administration present to you as director of station W. N.Y.C. these murals designed and executed under our auspices on behalf of all of the artist on this program and particularly of the four artists who executed the work I express the hope that the murals will give pleasure to all those who use of as at the stage. Thank you for. Thank you Mr McMahon the previous speakers of told you all about the N.Y.C. murals from the point of view of the critics and the authors I suppose a six word layman's opinion would not be out of place we are doubly N.Y.C. like in year old we feel is a privilege to take an active part in the sponsorship of living American authors and to show their work and I to bring out one important point. These murals are only the climax of the work of W.P.A. has done for this state and these murals are the finishing touches to a splendid job of modernization that began three years ago first W.P.A. forces built us a new and powerful transmitter then they built a complete set of modern studios now with the murals to the top everything off our studios are equal of any in the country in modernizing the Misbah radio station the W.P.A. has made another important contribution to the people of New York City since the beginning of nine hundred thirty eight doubly N.Y.C. has functioned as a separate city department under the direct supervision of the mayor and many listeners have been good enough to tell us that they've noticed a marked improvement in W N Y's these programs and reception radio writers have spoken of the W.P.A. about the really vital is ation of W N Y C If there has been every byte of his age and an improvement in the W.P.A. has played a major role in that process that W.P.A. built the new transmitter and gave me an Lycee of Paul for voice that W.P.A. built these beautiful studios and gave everyone at the W A N Y C A good place in which to work at our job of better serving the people of the city already and so do you miss McMahon representing the federal OD project and to each of the individual authors to workers who happen there's a better this job we extend our heartfelt expression of appreciating the murals for the sculpture and for everything else thank you W N Y Z list we extend an invitation to visit us in our bright and colorful had pointed that art has not made.