Ben Shahn

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Shahn, Ben


Born Sept. 12, 1898, in Kaunas, Lithuania; died Mar. 14, 1969, in New York City. American painter and graphic artist.

In 1906, Shahn was brought by his family to the USA. He studied at New York University, the College of the City of New York, and the National Academy of Design. Shahn’s work dealt with acute social problems, such as the injustice of the bourgeois world, the loneliness of urban man, and the strivings of simple people for peace. He expressed these themes in subjective, dramatic images closely related to the style of expressionism (The Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti, 1931–32, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York). Shahn was a master of fresco work (mural in the Bronx County Post Office, New York, 1938–39) and poster art.


Brysen, B. Ben Shahn. New York, 1972.
References in periodicals archive ?
Above: Government photograph selected by Ben Shahn of an unnamed mother mourning her son, killed at Bataan, in a cemetary in New Mexico, with accompanying text by Charles Olson.
This first release of FSA-OWI photographs also includes work by Ben Shahn, Gordon Parks, Marion Post Wolcott, Carl Mydans, John Vachon, Jack Delano, John Collier, and others.
The critical judgements that are made tend to be obvious - that a muted background will accentuate the subject, or that the painter uses |soft, lyrical color to evoke subtle emotion', or that in Miners' Wives Ben Shahn uses space 'to create psychological effects'.
Throughout his life, Ben Shahn paid close attention to the human heart; for those who know his art, the heart beats a little steadier.
Ben Shahn completed his painting Miners' Wives, a work reflecting the artist's lifelong concern with social injustice.
Maxwell Anderson's plays Gods of the Lightning (1928) and Winterset (1935) were based on the case, and Ben Shahn created a series of paintings that were published under the title The Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti (1961).
Artists who used facial exaggeration for political effect include Honore Daumier (1808-1879), Thomas Nast (1840-1902) and Ben Shahn (1898-1969).
He additionally interprets transforming events that shaped the artist's life including De Staebler's summer at Black Mountain College studying with Ben Shahn and Robert Motherwell; and the unexpected death of his mother in a plane crash.
Among the artists: Hans Hofmann, Jackson Pollock, Frans Kline, Mark Rothko, William de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Ben Shahn, and Judith Shahn, to name just a few.
The ambiguity has no upside for Jacklin, who avoids a confrontational mood, sacrificing the poignancy of Dorothea Lange's "Migrant Mother" of 1936, or Walker Evans, Ben Shahn, or Robert Frank.