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Watercolor and gouache with graphite and collaged elements
Norman O. Stone and Ella A. Stone Memorial Fund 1954.153.146
During the early years of the Great Depression,
Sommer found himself unemployed and nearly
drank himself to death. His financial situation
began to improve after he received a series of
mural commissions from the Public Works
Administration Project (PWAP), established in
1933, and its successor, the Works Progress
Administration (WPA). The museum recently
discovered a group of works by Sommer that
suggest studies for a WPA mural. Several studies
feature a squaring grid typically used for
transposing a composition to a larger format. The
train and ship in this study are made of pieces of
newspaper or magazine illustration, cut-and-pastedonto the surface, creating the only known example
of a collage by Sommer. The studies in this series
are united around the theme of transportation, an
appropriate subject for a post office mural. One
study (not shown in this exhibition) features an
airplane identified with the letters “U.S. Mail.”
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