In 1971, the Church published its first monthly magazines, the Ensign and The Friend. This corresponded with the first mass distribution of manuals available to members. These were the product of decades of planning by the Church, which had previously relied on local stakes, wards, and branches to self-publish teaching materials for members.
But, during the 1960s, under the direction of the First Presidency, Church Correlation established a centralized and uniform approach to teaching Church doctrine.
Both magazines and lesson manuals became a rich showcase for art. Some of the art included in these publications were by historical, non-Mormon artists such as Carl Bloch (Danish, 1834-1890) and Heinrich Hofmann (German, 1824-1911), whose work was harmonious with Church values and is still distributed today. Works that had been recently commissioned by Church leaders for World’s Fair from non-Mormon artists Harry Anderson (American, 1906-1996), John Scott (American, 1907-1987), and Tom Lovell (American, 1909-1997), were repurposed for lesson materials. And, a new generation of fine artists were commissioned to make a variety of works that could accompany lessons on Church History, LDS interpretations of the Old and New Testament, and Book of Mormon subjects for both adults and children. These were almost always oil paintings that were reproduced in much smaller scale for print, becoming mainstays of the Gospel Art kit.
Although their works are extremely familiar to Latter-day Saints, the artists themselves are unknown. Here, we have displayed works by many of these artists, who continue to create powerful, original work.