1933: Public Works of Art Project
Prefiguring the Federal Art Project, the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) was organized by the Civil Works Administration "to give work to artists by arranging to have competent representatives of the profession embellish public buildings." Lasting less than a year, it provided employment for approximately 3,700 artists who created nearly 15,000 works
1934: Artists' Committee of Action
Fighting censorship and advocating for artists' interests and welfare, the Artists' Committee of Action was formed by Hugo Gellert, Saul Belman, Stuart Davis, and Zoltan Hecht soon after a protest they had organized in response to the destruction of Diego Rivera's pro-labor mural at Rockefeller Center.
1934: The Artists' Union
Based in New York City, The Artists' Union was a leading voice for unemployed artists, advocating within the Works Progress Administration-Federal Art Project (WPA/FAP) for more positions, better pay and working conditions, and lobbying against proposed cutbacks. Beyond the WPA/FAP, the Artists' Union fought censorship, lobbied for permanent federal funding for the arts, and for a Municipal Art Gallery in New York City in response to the destruction of Diego Rivera's mural at Rockefeller Center. After the gallery opened, they fought to remove a provision that excluded foreign-born artists from exhibiting work.
1935: Federal Art Project (FAP)
The visual arts division of the New Deal/Works Progress Administration provides employment for approximately 5000 artists across 48 states through the Federal Art Project
1936: American Artist Congress/Art Front
in 1936 in response to the call of the Popular Front and the American Communist Party for formations of literary and artistic groups against the spread of Fascism. In May 1935 a group of New York artists met to draw up the 'Call for an American Artists' Congress
'; among the initiators were George Ault, Peter Blume, Stuart Davis, Adolph Denn, William Gropper, Jerome Klein, Louis Lozowick, Moses Soyer, Niles Spencer and Harry Sternberg. Davis became one of the most vociferous promoters of the Congress and was not only the national executive secretary but also the editor of the organization's magazine, Art Front
, until 1939.
1968: Canadian Artists' Representation/Le Front des artistes canadiens (CARFAC)
Established by Canadian artists in 1968, CARFAC
is the national voice of Canada's professional visual artists, defending artists' economic and legal rights and educating the public on fair dealing with artists.
1969: Black Emergency Cultural Coalition (BECC)
In the New York Public Library's Archives
: the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition was organized in January 1969 by a group of African American artists in response to the Metropolitan Museum of Art's exhibition, Harlem on My Mind
1969: The Guerrilla Art Action Group (GAAG)
Formed in October 1969 by artists Jon Hendricks, Poppy Johnson, Silvianna, Joanne Stamerra, Virginia Toche and Jean Toche, GAAG
used violent-non-violent direct action to attack and ridicule an (art) establishment corrupted by profit and private interest. Sound familiar? Blood Bath. Cockroach release. Letters. Manifestos. Licensing cards.
1971: Seth Siegelaub's "The Artist's Reserved Rights Transfer And Sale Agreement"
Until things change: use this document. Hans Haacke still does.
1972: Boston Visual Artists' Union
An artists' union forms in Boston and remains active until 1979. In 1977 members of the BVAU protest
the $4 entry fee for "The Massachusetts Open" at Worcester Art Museum.
1973: Hollis Frampton
Some things never change: The
elucidating letter written to MoMA's Curator of Film by Hollis Frampton in 1973
1975: The Second American Artists Congress
Almost 40 years after the first congress in 1936, Survival!
, the second convening, is hosted by the Boston Visual Artists' Union, the largest individual artists organization in America.
1985: The Guerrilla Girls
Reinventing the "f" word for the art world - feminism
2008: A Bibliography
Studies of Artists
by Donnell Butler, Princeton University
2009: Mary Beth Edelson's "Artist Contract"
Drafted collectively by a group of international artists and art workers for the benefit of artists, it can be tailored to suit your needs. Download it here