Electric Production and Direction

  • William Karp, Electric Production and Direction, ca. 1933-1934, oil, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Transfer from the U.S. Department of Labor, 1964.1.128A-B

Luce Center Label

William Karp created Electric Production and Direction as a mural design for the Public Works of Art Project in New York during the 1930s. The image shows disembodied, muscular hands and arms as components in a complex machine. It is difficult to tell who is in control. The hands at the top might be twisting and pulling strings to operate the machine, but the giant eye in the background suggests there is a greater power watching over. Mechanical forms echo the shape of the clenched fist in the center, but the fist is also tightly clamped in place.

Electric Production and Direction
ca. 1933-1934
On View
two panels, total: 55 3/4 x 27 1/8 in. (141.7 x 69.0 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Transfer from the U.S. Department of Labor

  • New Deal – Public Works of Art Project – New York City
  • Figure – fragment – arm
  • Allegory – arts and sciences – industry
  • Architecture – industry – power plant
  • Study – mural study
  • Allegory – element – energy
  • Architecture – machine
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI