Dedication of WNYC Studio Murals
Wednesday, August 02, 1939
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 Macintosh, 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