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Jenne Magafan Portrait

Jenne Magafan

Also Known as: Jennie Magafan

Chicago, Illinois 1916

Albany, New York 1952

Active in:

  • Woodstock, New York

Photo Caption:
Courtesy Jenne Magafan Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.


Born in Illinois. Primarily a muralist, the artist achieved national recognition in a brief career.

Nora Panzer, ed. Celebrate America in Poetry and Art (New York and Washington, D.C.: Hyperion Paperbacks for Children in association with the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 1994)

Additional Biographies

Born in Chicago and trained in Colorado, Jennie Magafan participated in federal art projects in the Midwest, producing The Windmill [SAAM, 1971.447.66] and several post office murals. She had a New York show in 1940 and won a national award in 1942, but her talent was nourished in the American heartland.

New Deal art from the farm belt often extolled the dignity of hard work, the beauty of the American landscape, and the richness of its resources. A windmill and a barn dominate Magafan's composition (in The Windmill, 1937). The clean, sharp lines and the scraped paint surface add to the scene's sparenesss: snow covers the ground, the tree has no leaves, and the figure turns away from the viewer. In the absence of any action, the windmill and barn become the subjects, emblems of the American farm, harnessing nature's power to work for man and to protect the fruits of his efforts.

Elizabeth Chew Women Artists (brochure, Washington, DC: National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution)