Indepth Arts News: |
"Ben Shahn: Summer of 1938"
2002-01-07 until 2002-02-15
Upper Arlington Cultural Arts Commission
Upper Arlington, OH,
USA United States of America
The exhibition, which examines Shahn's documentary photographs
of Ohio during the Great
Depression, illustrates his
substantial contribution to the
emerging field of social
documentary photography and
shows how the medium became
essential to both his political
activism and his artistic practice.
Ben Shahn was born in Russia in
1898 in a socialist Jewish family.
They fled the czarist regime in
1906 and settled in Brooklyn. In
the early 1930s, as Ben and his
wife struggled to support
themselves and their two young
children, the artist sought work on
public art projects. His early works,
collaborating with artists such as
Diego Rivera, were imbedded in
the political, economic, and social
disturbances of the time, most
notably the Great Depression.
The pictures are elegant and poignant, revealing the gravity of the Depression on American life. At the same time, they
underscore the dignity of people and the prosperity of the human spirit in the face of overwhelming circumstances.