Wentworth School
American Youth, 1937

Daniel S. Wentworth School, fourth floor, 6950 South Sangamon Street
Oil on canvas, three panels: one 7'10" x 8'3", one 7'9" x 8'32", and one 10' x 5'9"
Artist: Florian Durzynski (1902-69)
Commissioned by: the Works Progress Administration, Federal Art Project
Restored by: the Board of Education, administered by the Public Building Commission, 1999

Three large murals were commissioned in 1937 by the Works Progress Administration, Federal Art Project, for the spacious fourth-floor library of this very old school building, built in 1893, with an addition in 1925. Many years later, changes in the fire code ruled the room unsafe for student use, and it became a storage space. Over the years, the murals suffered considerable damage. In 1998 the Board of Education funded the removal of these murals, their restoration, and their relocation in the school, where they can again be enjoyed by the children. The theme of children playing in highly stylized outdoor settings is represented in three distinct time periods. In the contemporary scene a boy flies a toy plane while others build models, sail toy boats, play with bows and arrows, and read. Girls cut out paper dolls, talk to each other, and read. Young people of the nineteenth century enjoy walking outdoors, fishing, and playing with their pets. The third scene is set in the early twentieth century. Florian Durzynski's distinctive landscapes feature graceful, rolling hills and billowing trees, creating a very appealing picture of nature. Durzynski was one of the most productive muralists in the Illinois Art Project, and his work is at several other Chicago public schools: Bateman, Chopin, Falconer, and Harvard; unsigned murals at Howe and McKay are probably also his.

Wentworth School, American Youth, one of three panels, detail. Photograph by Ted Lacey, courtesy of the Chicago Public Schools, mural commissioned by the Works Progress Administration, Federal Art Project.

An image from A Guide to Chicago's Murals by Mary Lackritz Gray

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