Monday, May 26, 2008

GEMMA - Ben Shahn

Ben Shahn – Political Artist

Ben Shahn was born in Kaunas, Lithuania in 1898. His family then moved to America in 1904 and Shahn became a lithographer's apprentice after he finished schooling. He
 continued his studies at night school and eventually attended New York University and the National Academy of Design.
 In the 1920s Shahn became a Social Realist and his work was more than often inspired by news reports in reality.Text and lettering formed an integral part of his designs. Shahn held strong socialist views and his art often referred to cases of social injustice. Ben
 Shahn’s social-realist vision informed his approach to art. Although he often explored polemic themes of modern urban life, organized labor, immigration and injustice, he di
d so while maintaining a compassionate tone.
Ben remained to diplay pictorial realiti
es in his works, rather than abstract forms. He believed, known forms allow the artist “to discover new truth
s about man and to reaffirm that his life is significant.” References to allegory, the Old Testament, humanistic content, childhood, science, music and the commonplace are other motifs Ben Shahn draws upon to make the universal personal for his viewers.
He incorporates evocativ
e juxtapositions in which characterize his aesthetic. He intentionally paired contrasting scales, colors, and images together to create tension. The appearance of his art is striking but also introspective captivating figures trapped in their own worlds. Many of his photographs were taken spontaneously, without the subject’s notice. Although, h
e used many mediums, his pieces are consistently thoughtful and playful.


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