Shahn, Ben (1898–1969) By Porter, Austin
Ben Shahn was an American painter, photographer, muralist, and graphic artist. His realist style, left-wing political activism, and socially conscious artwork exemplify social realism. After immigrating to Brooklyn from Lithuania in 1906, Shahn trained as a lithographer. He received early critical success with The Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti (1931–2), a series of paintings that addressed the controversial trial of two Italian anarchists. During the Great Depression’s economic instability, Shahn created posters, murals, and photographs for New Deal agencies promoting government aid. His post-war work included paintings with symbolic themes drawn from his Jewish heritage, and commercial projects exhibiting expressive typography.