biografía de Ben SHAHN (1898-1969)

Lugar de nacimiento: Kovno (now Kaunas), Lithuania

Lugar de defunción: NYC

Direcciones: Came to U.S. in 1906; Brooklyn, NY/ active in Provincetown, MA, 1925-35

Profesión: Painter, graphic artist, photographer

Estudios: apprenticed as lithographer, 1903-17; NAD, 1919-22; NYU; CCNY; Acad. de la Grande Chaumière, Paris, 1925, 1927.

Exposiciones: Salons of Am., 1930, 1932-33; WMAA Birnnial, 1932-67; AIC; PAFA Ann., 1940-64 (gold medal 1956); Corcoran Gal biennials, 1941-63 (8 times, incl. 4th prize, 1961); MoMA, 1947 (retrospective); Fogg MA, 1956 (retrospective); Sao Paulo Biennial, 1954 (prize); Venice Biennial, 1954; Stedelijk Mus., Amsterdam, 1961 (retrospective); New Jersey State Mus., Trenton, 1969 (retrospective); Ishibashi Mem. Hall, Kurume, Japsn, 1970 (retrospective); New Haven (CT) Jewish Community Center; Downtown Gal., NY; "NYC WPA Art" at Parsons School Design, 1977; Jewish Mus., 1998 (retrospective)

Obra: Newark Mus.; WMAA; BMFA; MoMA; Albright-Knox Art Gal., Buffalo; AIC; BMA; Brooklyn Mus.; CI; DIA; MMA; PAFA; Phillips Coll.; St. Louis AM; VMFA. WPA murals: Central Park Casino, 1934; Roosevelt Community Ctr., Hightstown, NJ; Bronx Central Annex Post Office; Jamaica (NY) Post Office; Health & Educ. Bldg., Wash., DC; Riker's Island Penitentiary, NY, 1935 (mural was never completed); Mural mosaic, New Jersey State Mus., Trenton, 1960s; 3,000 photos at Fogg MA, Harvard Univ; other photos at IMP, LOC, & RISD; the SLT (Stephen Lee Taller) Ben Shahn archive is at Fine Arts Lib., Harvard Univ.

Comentarios: In the 1930s and early 1940s he was an enormously popular artist with both critics and the public, praised for his imagery which appealed to America"s social consciousness. His earliest work in this vein was concerned with highly controversial political and social issues, such as the case of Sacco and Vanzetti, two Italian immigrants who were convicted of a murder many argued they did not commit. Shahn created a cycle of 23 paintings (1931-32) related to the trial, bitterly satirizing the antileftist hysteria surrounding the charges and the underlying social prejudice. In his later 1930s he created murals for the WPA and in his work moved awary from direct political criticisms toward an expression of more universal social and humanitarian concerns. Shahn was also a photographer who, from 1935-38, worked for the WPA Farm Sec. Admin., often shooting NY street scenes. During the 1940s, he made posters for the Office of War Information and served as director of the Graphic Arts Section of the Congress of Industrial Organization (1945-46). In the post-war years he provided an alternative to the abstraction of the emerging New York School, but his work ultimately became politically pigeon-holed as Leftist, and aesthetically criticized by Clement Greenberg (see entry) as having "a poverty of culture and resources." Shahn's work became more personal in his later years, and at times almost completely abstract. Designer: sets for ballets and plays, including e.e. cummings" play, Images," and Jerome Robbins" "Events," in Spoleto, Italy; mural mosaics for synagogues, private homes. Author: The Shape of Content (1957).

Fuentes: WW40; M. Kimmelman, "Trying to Separate Ben Shahn"s Art From His Politics," New York Times (Nov. 13, 1998) p.E35; Susan Chevlowe, Common Man, Mythic Vision (Princeton Univ. Press, 1998); John Morse, ed., Ben Shahn (New York: Praeger, 1972); Frances K. Pohl, Ben Shahn: New Deal Artist in a Cold War Climate, 1947-54 (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1989); Baigell, Dictionary; New York City WPA Art, 77 (w/repro.); Witkin & London, 232; Falk, Exh. Record Series.

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