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 ?
Ben Shahn, in his studies for a mural at the federally-funded cooperative housing project of Jersey Homesteads in 1936, also developed a narrative cycle that sought to integrate Eastern European Jews into contemporary American life.
Man, a gouache by Israeli artist Ben Shahn that had served as a backdrop for Robbins' 1961 ballet Events and was estimated at $10,000 to $15,000, sold for $19,350.
While working as a waiter on the Northern Pacific Railroad, he read voraciously, wrote music, and, through reading the magazines of the day, was introduced to pictures made by such contemporary social documentary photographers as Ben Shahn, Jack Delano, Carl Mydans, Dorothea Lange, John Vachon, and Walker Evans.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to assemblage-sculptor Louise Nevelson, illustrator Thomas Nast, social-realist artist Ben Shahn and Pop artist Robert Indiana.
He briefly attended Black Mountain College, North Carolina in 1951, where many avant-garde artists such as Ben Shahn, with whom De Staebler studied, gathered to explore artistic innovation.
The project, which continued into 1943, launched a group of young photographers, including Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Ben Shahn, Arthur Rothstein and Gordon Parks, who fanned out across the country to photograph ordinary people at work.
Rosie the Riveter" and posters created by such artists as Norman Rockwell and Ben Shahn are good examples.
Although there are several essays that feature Israeli artists, and there is a fair representation of European (and occasionally Latin American) Jewish artists, most of the artists discussed in the book are American--from the elusive Dadaist Man Ray (Emmanuel Radnitsky) and the muralist Ben Shahn, to members of the heavily Jewish, left-wing John Reed Club Art School that receives mention in two articles.
While this stylistic development often is seen as the result of the inevitable progression of modernist art away from three-dimensional renderings of the world toward two-dimensionality or flatness, artist Ben Shahn offered a different explanation.
The first dance he made was inspired by a reproduction of a painting by Ben Shahn of a bunch of boys in the Depression playing handball against a very gray wall.
He also had the good fortune to study with prominent artist-teachers, among them the ceramist Peter Voulkos at Berkeley, the artist/activist Ben Shahn and the painter Robert Motherwell.
Although Sloan joined the Socialist Party in 1910, and two years later became art director for the left-wing periodical The Masses, his paintings never reached beyond observation to serious political commentary, such as was the case in the photography of Jacob Riis and the paintings of Social Realist, Ben Shahn.