Ben Shahn's New York: The Photography of Modern Times

Ben Shahn's New York: The Photography of Modern Times

by Deborah Martin Kao, Jenna Webster, Laura Katzman
     
 
Ben Shahn (1898-1964) was at once a painter and photographer who claimed himself not to make a distinction between the two, though the critics and scholars have always given privilege to the paintings. Shahn preferred the hand-held 35mm Leica and an anglefinder (a device like a periscope that allowed him to photograph people without pointing his camera at them) to

Overview

Ben Shahn (1898-1964) was at once a painter and photographer who claimed himself not to make a distinction between the two, though the critics and scholars have always given privilege to the paintings. Shahn preferred the hand-held 35mm Leica and an anglefinder (a device like a periscope that allowed him to photograph people without pointing his camera at them) to the cumbersome large-format cameras. He shot what he called the "living theatre"-the unconscious expression of working class and immigrant populations on NYC streets-and left a poignant record of the worst years of the Great Depression. The point this really good book makes is that, paintings aside, Shahn's photographs have strong impact and intrinsic value. Shahn's view of NYC ignores the skyscrapers and bridges that many of his contemporaries fixed on and gives us NYC at street level, eye level.

Editorial Reviews

Vicki Goldberg
Impressive.
New York Times
Library Journal - Library Journal
With a desire to promote social justice and a deep compassion for humanity, Shahn (1898-1969) was actively involved in social protests and leftist causes in New York City during the 1930s. Although better known for his paintings, murals, and satirical drawings, Shahn was also a talented photographer, influenced by filmmaking and documentary photography as well as his social concerns. Camera skills learned from close friend Walker Evans enabled Shahn to create candid images--of laborers, immigrants, children, the neighborhoods and storefronts of Manhattan, poverty, and unemployment--that became a potent sociopolitical statement during the Depression years. Over the next year the show will be traveling from the organizing institution, Harvard University Art Museums, to major venues in Washington, New York, and Chicago. The authors, who organized the exhibition, have written illuminating essays demonstrating meticulous scholarship. More than 200 duotones, many that Shahn integrated into his paintings, are brilliantly paired in this publication; an appendix with delightful memorabilia caps the work. A gem for both photography and fine arts collections.--Joan Levin, MLS, Chicago Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780300083156
Publisher:
Harvard Art Museum
Publication date:
03/28/2000
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
9.37(w) x 10.31(h) x 1.33(d)

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