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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.


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