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Ben Shahn: An Artist’s Life by Howard Greenfeld (110,000 words, 90 illustrations)

Ben Shahn was born in Lithuania in 1898 and emigrated to New York with his family in 1906. Trained as a lithographer, Shahn created social realist paintings of controversial subjects such as Sacco and Vanzetti. He worked as an assistant to Diego Rivera on Rivera’s Rockefeller Center mural, and later created his own public murals in Washington, New York, and New Jersey. In 1935, Walker Evans invited him to join the New Deal’s Farm Security Administration. As a photographer, Shahn documented the Depression in the American South with Evans and Dorothea Lange. During the war years, he worked for the Office of War Information (OWI) producing propaganda posters before returning to painting. Toward the end of his life he worked as a commercial artist, taught and wrote about art, including The Biography of a Painting (1956) and The Shape of Content (1960). Howard Greenfeld's biography is the first complete life of the artist and is illustrated with 90 of his photographs, pictures, and paintings.


“Howard Greenfeld’s approach scrupulously balances the personal and the political to provide a rounded portrait... gives a convincing sense of a determined individual making his mark as an immigrant in the turbulent America of depression and war, social upheaval and reaction.” — David Cohen,
The New York Times