WPA in NH: Philip Guston and Musa McKim on View at the Currier Museum of Art

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Guston in Frame
Philip Guston, American, 1913–1980. Pulpwood Logging, 1941. Oil on canvas. 79 x 165 in. Fine Arts Collection, U.S. General Services Administration

Manchester, NH – The Currier Museum of Art celebrates two long-forgotten masterpieces of American art with the exhibition “WPA in NH: Philip Guston and Musa McKim.” In 1941, the famed artist Philip Guston and the poet/painter Musa McKim painted a pair of monumental murals for the Federal forestry building in Laconia, New Hampshire. Each measuring 14 feet, the expansive paintings depict sustainable logging and the restoration of New Hampshire forests around the White Mountains. The images were commissioned by the Works Progress Administration to carry out public projects and support artists under the Federal New Deal.

Although these magnificent murals are of great artistic significance, they have long been forgotten as the original building in Laconia was repurposed. The paintings have been carefully restored by the U.S. General Services Administration and are back in New Hampshire where they can now be seen at the Currier Museum of Art.

McKim Updated Small
Musa McKim, American, 1908–1992. Wildlife in the White Mountains, 1941. Oil on canvas. 79 x 165 in. Fine Arts Collection U.S. General Services Administration

The paintings mark important points in the careers of the two artists, who were married to each other. Shortly after completing this mural, Philip Guston gave up realistic painting to focus on Abstract Expressionism; he became a leader of the New York School. Musa McKim focused her career on poetry and writing; her collection Alone with the Moon was published in 1994.

The display has been made possible by the Center of Fine Arts of the U.S. General Services Administration. The Guston Foundation, responsible for the legacy of Philip Guston, and Musa Mayer, daughter of Guston and McKim, have supported the Currier’s exhibition. The murals will remain on loan to the Currier until December.

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