Coal Elevators (WPA) by Hyman Joseph Warsager

Coal Elevators (WPA) by Hyman Joseph Warsager

Coal Elevators (WPA)

Hyman Joseph Warsager

Title

Coal Elevators (WPA)

 
Artist
Year
c. 1937  
Technique
etching 
Image Size
5 x 6 7/8" platemark 
Signature
pencil, lower right 
Edition Size
fewer than 28 impressions 
Annotations
titled in pencil, lower center 
Reference
not listed in the GSA WPA book; Metropolitan Museum acc. no. 43.33.368 
Paper
ivory wove Rives 
State
published 
Publisher
New York WPA 
Inventory ID
AFAE130 
Price
$325.00 
Description

This etching was published by the NYC WPA/FAP. The Works Progress Administration (renamed in 1939 as the Work Projects Administration; WPA) was the largest and most ambitious American New Deal agency, employing millions of unemployed people (mostly unskilled men) to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads. In a much smaller but more famous project, Federal Project Number One, the WPA employed musicians, artists, writers, actors and directors in large arts, drama, media, and literacy projects.

Many of the East Coast WPA artists were Social Realists who delved into the human condition, pointing out the problems the common man was facing during the Great Depression of the mid 1930s.

In this small etching Warsager packs a world of symbolism. The teetering coal elevator is set to receive coal from a train. The coal was emptied through the floor of the car into a pit, where it was mechanically raised and dumped into the elevated bins. Later on, using sluice gates, the coal could be loaded into wagons and/or trucks. The train belches smoke into the air. The air itself seems to be saturated with small particulates, perhaps coal dust, and the sky is overcast. The foliage in the foreground seems to be a huge beast with a gaping sharp toothed maw. A desolate place that has but one finite function.