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|Ben Shahn: An Artist's Life |
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There was a time when nearly everyone recognized Ben Shahn's scathing pictures from his most famous series, The Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti, 1932. Sacco and Vanzetti, two working-class anarchists convicted on trumped-up murder charges, lie dead in their coffins. Behind them stand the top-hatted men of the old, Anglo establishment, hypocritically mourning the poor immigrants whose lives they destroyed.
These days, it may be hard to understand how vital such storytelling artists were to the political life of their times. In Ben Shahn: An Artist's Life, Howard Greenfeld does justice to those heady days, placing both Shahn and his work in the context of the Great Depression, the rise of unions and social relief programs, and the beginnings of the civil rights movement. With uncommon fairness, Greenfeld also chronicles the difficult, contradictory personal life of this brilliant artist, who, for example, began and ended his career working on Jewish themes but cruelly abandoned his first wife, Tillie, and their two children to marry a Christian woman.
Greenfeld adeptly traces Shahn's development as one of the 20th century's most important illustrators and narrative artists, comparable to Daumier and even to Goya. Carefully researched, this biography is simultaneously respectful and objective. Greenfeld, who has also written biographies of Puccini, Caruso, and art collector Albert C. Barnes, has a gift for seeing a densely complicated life as an understandable, admirable whole. --Peggy Moorman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
The centenary of socially conscious artist Ben Shahn's birth brings at least two salutes: an upcoming exhibition at New York's Jewish Museum and Greenfeld's (The Devil and Dr. Barnes) competent if workmanlike biography. "I hate injustice," Shahn (1898-1968) told an interviewer in 1944. "I've hated it ever since I read a story in school." That troubling biblical story of an unjust God is not the only influence that Greenfeld, the founder of Orion Press and a friend of Shahn's in the artist's... read more --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Beginning in the thirties, he created bold and powerful paintings of often controversial subjects, and in particular his portraits of Sacco and Vanzetti caused a storm whenever they were exhibited. After working as an assistant to Diego Rivera on the ill-fated Rockefeller Center mural, he began creating his own arresting murals--in Washington, New York, and New Jersey--which are among the finest such works ever painted in this country. He also excelled as a photographer as one of the distinguished group known as the FSA photographers, which included Dorothea Lange and his close friend Walker Evans. His life crossed the paths of many others, too, including Albert Einstein, Alexander Calder, William Carlos Williams, Archibald MacLeish, and S. J. Perelman.
During World War II, he produced some of the most striking and effective propaganda posters, before returning again to painting, always choosing subjects that touched a nerve and were just as often politically powerful.
Shahn also entered the world of advertising, but completely on his own terms, and was respected for it. His life was always involved directly with his times, and he was a member of the intellectual community throughout his career, as well as a courageous political activist. His unique, unforgettable work won him shows in museums all over America, including the Museum of Modern Art.
Ben Shahn is the first complete life of the artist, and it is illustrated throughout with his photographs, pictures, and paintings. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
|Common Man, Mythic Vision |
Susan Chevlowe; Diana L. Linden; Ben Shahn; Allentown Art Museum; & Detroit Institute of Arts
|Documenting America, 1935-1943 (Approaches to American Culture, No 2) |
Carl Fleischhauer (Editor); Beverly W. Brannan (Editor); & Lawrence W. Levine (Editor)
|Ben Shahn's New York: The Photography of Modern Times |
Deborah Martin Kao; Laura Katzman; & Jenna Webster