The Kuniyoshi Collection
Yasuo Kuniyoshi was an American painter, printmaker, and photographer who worked as a teacher at the New School for Social Research and The Art Student’s League during the Great Depression. In the early 1990s, Kuniyoshi’s widow, Sara Mazo Kuniyoshi, donated 19 paintings created by children during the late 1930s in Works Progress Administration (WPA)-sponsored Community Art Centers in New York City to Children’s Museum of the Arts.
While our research has not been able to confirm that Kuniyoshi himself taught the students whose artwork makes up this collection, like many artists during this time period, he collected children’s art as a source of inspiration for his own work. The collection was featured alongside the Young Artists Residency Program collection in CMA’s 2011 exhibition "Art Within Reach: From the WPA to the Present."
The Leon Bibel Collection
Leon Bibel (1913-1995) was born in Poland and immigrated to the United States as a child. His lifelong dream was to be an artist, an ambition he pursued as a student at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco. After assisting Bernard Zakhelm on several murals, Bibel moved to New York in 1936 to join the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project.
Leon was assigned to the teaching division of the WPA/FAP, where he began teaching printmaking to young students at P.S. 94 and Bronx House, a community art center. The centers were designed to offer free arts education to people of all ages, and in concept and function, this open door policy promoted the arts as a valuable element of society, and an activity to which every individual should have access.
The artworks in this collection offer a glimpse into the 1930s from the perspective of a child. The children greatly benefitted by being guided through the artistic process to a fuller connection to their environment. The Leon Bibel Collection was accessioned into CMA’s Permanent Collection with the help of Phyllis Wrynn and Mitch Freidlin, on behalf of the Leon Bibel Estate. Special thanks to Elaine Bibel Cater and Daniel Bibel.