Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

WPA Meets IUP : A Glimpse Into America's Artistic Past: Artists Biographies D-L

This online exhibit presents works by 14 artists in the collection of the University Museum at IUP, and culminates the student project for the Fall 2015 ARHI 481: Special Topics in Art Museums, Art Libraries, and Visual Resources at IUP

Biographies of the WPA Artists Featured in the Exhibit

Artist Vincent D' Agostino

Vincent D'Agostino Flowers against the Window, 1934

Image: (WIU to Show WPA Art Collection)


Artist Julio De Diego

Gypsy Rose Lee [Gypsy Rose Lee and her son, Erik, with Julio De Diego in his studio.] ( 1948 negative (photographic) acetate negative H:3in x W. 4 in.)  X2011.4.10387.38,  Arthur Rothstein (1915-1985). Look Magazine.

Artist Phillip Guston


Philip Guston, 1940 Aug. 21,  Creator: Sol Libsohn (1914-2001), photographer Description: Guston working on a mural with a group of children looking on.


Artist Yasuo Kuniyoshi

Yasuo Kuniyoshi in his studio, 1950

Physical Details: Photographic print : 1 item : b&w ; 26 x 21 cm., Creator: Roy Craven, photographer Description: Shows Kuniyoshi smoking a pipe, leaning on an empty picture frame. One of his paintings is on an easel in the background. Archives of America Art

Artist Doris Lee

Doris Lee and Arnold Blanch, ca. 1936 / unidentified photographer. Gertrude Abercrombie papers, 1880-1986, bulk, 1935-1977. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Resources from the IUP Library


N6488.5.B79 A33 2006

Making Race (Electronic Resource)

Biography for Artist Vincent D' Agostino (1898-1981)

Vincent D’ Agostino was born in Chicago, Illinois April 7th, 1898. During his life he studied at the Art institute of Chicago alongside George Bellows and Charles Hawthorn (Hughes). His work was exhibited in the major cities in the West in the early 1930’s. President Roosevelt’s New Deal created thousands of jobs to help the people recover from the depression; the Works Progress Administration (WPA) is one of the most famous. The WPA created many works but the most well-known were the murals. D’Agostino created a mural for the WPA entitled The Perils of Mail for the Gloucester City post office lobby in New Jersey; it is still visible there today (Kupcinet). The majority of D’Agostino’s work is completed in water colors and oils. It is suggested that Cezanne was one of the great influences for him. In the 1940’s he moved to California and taught as a professor at Woodbury College before he died on June 27th 1981 in Los Angeles.

Stefanie  Maticic  

Hughes, Edan. "Artists in California, 1786-1940"Artists of the American West (Doris Dawdy); American Art Annual 1933; Who's Who in American Art 1936

Kupcinet, Irv. "WPA Artist Biographies." WPA Art. N.p., 06 June 2002. Web. 01 Nov. 2015.

"The Works Progress Administration (WPA)." The American Experience / PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 01 Nov. 2015.

"New Deal/W.P.A. Artist Biographies." New Deal/W.P.A. Artist Biographies. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Nov.  2015.

Biography for Artist Julio De Diego (1900-1979)

Julio De Diego was born on May, 9 1900 in Madrid, Spain. He became interested in art at a young age and at the age of 15 he apprenticed as a scene painter for theaters. In 1924 he moved to the United States, specifically New York, and in 1926 he settled in Chicago. There, he worked as a magazine illustrator and graphic designer. Later, he began regularly showing his work at the Art Institute of Chicago and continued doing so for many years. He became interested in Mexican art and traveled to Mexico in 1939 where he worked and became close friends with Carlos Merida, a muralist. A lot of De Diego’s work reflected the Spanish Civil War and his style recalled Goya’s war paintings. Throughout the years De Diego was employed by the easel division of the Illinois Art Project and later took jobs teaching at The Art Institute of Chicago, the University of Denver, and The Artist Equity Workshop, all while completing illustrations and showing in exhibitions. De Diego continued to impact the world of art as he produced interpretive representations of current events in many techniques. He worked with gouache, graphite, and mixed media. In the late 60’s Diego relocated to an artist colony in Florida where he stayed until he died August 22, 1979.

Khyle Waters

Works Cited                    


Physical Details: Diary : 1 v. : handwritten ; 15 x 10 cm. Creator: Julio De Diego (1900-1979) Description: De Diego chronicles his time in New York and Chicago  (Read from Julio de Diego Diary, 1932 Apr. 30-Sept. 29 by going to : (Archives of American Art)

Biography for Artist Phillip Guston (1913-1980)

Phillip Guston, born Phillip Goldstein on June 27, 1913 was an American painter and a printmaker in New York. He attended the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles with fellow artist Jackson Pollock while there, the pair wrote a paper criticizing the importance of sports over the arts and they were suspended.  (Kupcinet ) Not returning to school, Guston’s life took a dismal turn when his father had hanged himself.  At age 18 Guston was a politically aware painter completing several murals regarding racial tolerance and anti-fascism. In 1935 he worked in the WPA (Work Projects Association) to help create public works as a social realist painter, this was one of the most prolific programs set up by the New Deal. Only two years later Guston met Musa McKim on a WPA project and married McKim, who also attended Otis.( Kupcinet) In the 1950’s Guston’s trademarks were being an abstract expressionist and his limited palette favoring whites, blacks, greys and reds. (Storr) Towards the end of Guston’s life his compositions became increasingly enigmatic but reverted back to themes of opposing war and injustice died he died at age 67 in June 1980.


Guston, Philip. "New Deal Programs: Selected Library of Congress Resources." Federal Art Project: New Deal Web Guide (Virtual Programs & Services, Library of Congress). N.p., 29 Jan. 1965. Web. 01 Nov. 2015.

Kupcinet, Irv. "WPA Artist Biographies." WPA Art. N.p., 06 June 2002. Web. 01 Nov. 2015.

"New Deal/W.P.A. Artist Biographies." New Deal/W.P.A. Artist Biographies. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Nov.  2015.

Storr, Robert. "Abstract Expressionism- |Philip Guston|Prospects|." ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM - | Philip GUSTON | Prospects. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Nov. 2015.

Link off to :Oral interview with Philip Guston, 1965 January 29 from Archives of American Art 


Biography for Artist Yasuo Kuniyoshi (1893-1953)

Yasuo Kuniyoshi was a painter, photographer, and printmaker. Kuniyoshi was born on September 1st, 1893 in Okayama, Japan and he did not have much contact with art during his time in his native land. (Goodrich). Yasuo moved to America in 1906 and spent some time in Seattle. After Seattle Kuniyoshi enrolled in Los Angeles School of Art and Design. After being in Los Angeles for three years he moved to New York City and studied at the National Academy, and then the Independent School. After studying briefly at those two schools he studied under Kenneth Hayes Miller and the Art Students League of New York. After traveling to Europe in 1925 and 1928 he worked on the Federal Art Project during the Works Progress Administration and then began teaching at the Art Students League in 1933. He also became active in liberal artists’ organizations and eventually moved to Woodstock, New York. He was an active member of the Woodstock artistic community. Yasuo is commonly known for his still life paintings of common objects, babies, circus performers, and women. After spending some time in Europe his subject matter became less dreamlike and more realistic. Yasuo Kuniyoshi passed away in New York, New York on May 14th, 1953.

Kendalyn Sypolt

Works Cited

Goodrich, LLoyd. Retrospective Exhibition of Work by Yasou Kuniyoshi. Gainesville: U Gallery, 1969. Print.

American Artists Group. Yasou Kuniyoshi. New York: American Artists Group, n.d. Print.

Link off and read more about Yasou Kuniyoshi and his art from the Yasuo Kuniyoshi papers, 1906-2013 (Archives of American Art)


Biography for Artist Doris Lee (1905-1983)

Doris Elizabeth Emrick Lee was born in Aledo, Illinois in 1905.  Before Lee’s career blossomed, she studied at many places including the Kansas City Art Institute under the noted Impressionist Ernest Lawson, in Paris under cubist painter André Lhote, as well as in San Francisco, at the California School of Fine Arts under Arnold Blanch, whom she later ended up marrying. She then graduated from the Rockford college in 1927 with a majors in art and philosophy. The  underlying theme of her works lies in the portrayal of contemporary American life in a style that that was easily understandable and relatable to her audience.

 Lee’s career began in the 1930’s where she made works such as paintings, murals, prints, and illustrations; she even took interest in costume, textile, and ceramic design. Her work during this time focused on rural America and in many ways parallel to regionalism. Lee’s works were stylized and she was very concerned with color and design, which became more apparent in her later years where her works focused more on these elements. In 1935 she was awarded the Logan Prize in the annual at the Art Institute of Chicago for her painting Thanksgiving Dinner. That same day shows commissioned by the WPA to create murals in Post Office’s located in Washington, D.C. and Summerville, Georgia. Lee died in Clearwater, Florida in 1983.

Lee's work can be found in many public collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Cleveland Museum of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, National Museum of Women in the Arts, and the Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville, SC. As well the Art Institute of Chicago, the Rhode Island School of Design, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Salyers

Works Cited:

Link off to : Oral history interview with Doris Emrick Lee, 1964 Nov. 4 from Archives of American Art

Artist Quote

I don't know why, but it's a difficult thing to pass by an old beautiful bottle on the beach or an old broken piece of iron or artifact...we really have too many things, they clutter up our house a little bit. But I think most artists are that way. You see very strange things in artists' houses. Some of them are of great value and some of them are just things that they like the texture of, and so on.

                                                                                                     Doris Lee

The wonderful world of maestro Julio De Diego, 1942-1954. Lester Burbank Bridaham papers, 1912-1986. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution