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Elizabeth Olds portrait, Artist Portrait


Elizabeth Olds, a founding member of the screen printing unit, Graphic Arts Division of the Federal Art Project, was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She studied at University of Minnesota, Minneapolis School of Art, Art Students League, and privately with George Luks. The first woman to be awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship to study painting abroad; Olds travelled to Paris in 1926.

Olds spent the early thirties in the Midwest, where she executed a series of prize-winning lithographs of the Omaha stockyards. She joined the Public Works of Art Project in 1934 in Omaha and began making lithographs depicting the activities of the WPA relief agencies. Later, she moved to New York and worked in the Graphic Arts Division of the Federal Art Project with colleagues Anthony Velonis, Louis Lozowick, Ruth Chaney, Eugene Morely, Hyman Warsager and Harry Gottlieb, Olds was instrumental in developing screen printing as a fine art medium. She believed in art for the people and in "Prints for Mass Production", an essay written in 1936, she advocated the use of prints produced in large editions and circulated widely as a means of enlightening a culturally illiterate public. Because equipment for screen printing was portable, simple, and inexpensive, and the process readily lent itself to creating multiples, the medium was well-suited to her purpose of responding to the American Zeitgeist in an immediate and vibrant manner. Olds' work reflects the enthusiasm, light-hearted energy, and compassion of her character. Her directness and sense of humor were a well-received antidote to the difficulties of the Depression era.

Olds's work is in the collections of Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, Brooklyn Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, New York Public Library, Library of Congress, Baltimore Museum of Art, Seattle Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Art, and Glasgow University.

Quartette - c. 1940, Lithograph

Edition 25. Signed and titled in pencil. Initialed in the stone, lower left. Stamped Federal Art Project WPA NYC, bottom left margin.

Image size 11 7/8 x 17 1/4 inches (302 x 438 mm); sheet size 15 3/4 x 27 inches (400 x 686 mm).

A fine, richly-inked impression, on off-white wove paper, with full margins (1 3/4 to 2 1/2 inches), in excellent condition. Scarce.

Created by the artist for the New York City WPA .



Women's Chorus, quartet, singing, music, WPA

Harlem River Bridges - 1940, Color Serigraph

Edition c. 25. Signed, dated, titled, and annotated Silk Screen in pencil. Dated 1939 1940 in ink, in the bottom left sheet corner.

Image size 9 13/16 x 18 1/2 inches (246 x 465 mm); sheet size 12 5/8 x 21 7/16 inches (406 x 581 mm).

A fine, painterly impression, with fresh, rich colors, on cream wove paper, with margins (1 1/8 to 1 3/4 inches). Archivally repaired tears in the center left and center right sheet edges, traces of printing ink in the bottom center margin, all well away from the image; otherwise in excellent condition. Scarce.

Created by the artist for the New York City WPA .



New York City, Harlem River, Cityscape, Urban Industrial landscape, Tugboat, New York City Bridges