This “Fruit Store” serves a bright vintage bounty.
Farmers market regulars know: it’s fruit scarfing season. In NYC, we’re swimming in stone fruit and strawberries, as much a feast for the eyes as they are a fragrant, chin-dripping taste of peak summer produce. That these jewels of July’s harvest are also healthy hardly crosses the mind while we’re standing over the sink singing the praises of a particularly juicy peach. Are we thinking about antioxidants while we’re ogling crates of colorful berries? Heck no. But behind that beauty and flavor is a nutritional win—something the Works Progress Administration was well aware of when they commissioned Fruit Store in 1941 as part of the Federal Arts Project.
Pears, grapes, pineapples, strawberries, plums, lemons … Fruit Store’s vibrant wares are immediately eye-catching. The quirky vantage point and close crop fills the frame with diagonals, and the pattern on the store awning doubles down on that directional theme. Similarly, every piece of fruit, stem, and leaf is posed in its bin at a precise, repetitive angle. These choices add a sense of movement, ripe delights lined up like synchronized swimmers in super-saturated, gleaming suits. The typography on that overhanging, scalloped edge is bold enough to announce itself, but flat enough to take a backseat to the visual appeal of the carefully arranged edibles. The hyper-stylized rows, color-block shadowing, cut-out effect, and crisp highlights are graphic, engaging, and fabulously fun. How do you get everyday people excited about healthy eating? Make fruit shopping look this modern, mesmerizing, and, quite frankly, cool.
Fruit Store is one of the more than 30,000 poster designs created by artists for the Federal Art Project (FAP), a subset of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The WPA was established in 1935 as part of the New Deal with the aim to employ millions of job-seekers for public works projects—one way to mitigate some of the economic effects of the Great Depression. The FAP in specific was focused on promoting community activities, positive social values, and proactive approaches to health. In the 1920s and 30s, science began to dig deeper into the chemical compositions and effects of certain nutrients, and food and healthy eating became increasingly popular subjects for WPA artists. Fruit Store is also a testament to modern advances in refrigeration, showcasing an aseasonal array of produce that would have been grown all over the world. Options! No way you can't find a fruit you fancy.
Maybe you’re a year-long fruit lover or maybe you could use a little positive encouragement to keep the fresh produce flowing. Maybe you’re all about color or you see Fruit Store's potential to add the perfect pop. Maybe you're seeking art for your kitchen or something for a kid's room. Maybe you’re a history buff! There are so many reasons to sink your teeth into today’s new edition. Fruity’s in the eye of the beholder.
With art for everyone,