Sunday, September 15, 2019

Ben Shahn, 1898 - 1969, A Lithographer, painter, Muralist, photographer, graphic artist, & an advocate for social justice.

Ben Shahn, "Men are men before they are lawyers or physicians or , 1955, brush and ink on paper mounted on paperboard, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Container Corporation of America, 1984.124.264

Picture a secular Jewish socialist on fire for justice for the poor, the working class, and the immigrant.

The man in question was Ben Shahn, the 20th-century American painter, muralist, photographer and graphic artist and a leader of the social realism art movement.  Born in Lithuania, emigrated to the United States as a child, was apprenticed to a lithographer after high school. 

He studied at New York University and City College, and very briefly at the National Academy of Design. 

Shahn was shaped by his early religious education and informed by his experiences and observations of “the social and political events and history of Jews in America,” His work is about Jewish ethics, not prayer or ritual, said art historian Diana L. Linden, author of “Ben Shahn’s New Deal Murals: Jewish Identity in the American Scene.”

Shahn's first major success came with the 1932 exhibition of his series The Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti. Look to Shahn’s series of 23 paintings detailing the controversial trial and ultimate execution of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. They were two radical Italian immigrants of the 1920s, convicted of murder on scanty (and now missing) evidence.

Shahn once said that he paints two things, "what I love and what I abhor," and during the Depression years his scenes of children playing in concrete urban parks, and of miners and construction workers engaged in their trades, reflect his admiration for the working American and his abhorrence of injustice and oppression. Throughout the 1930s Shahn worked for various government programs, and when the United States entered World War II, he joined the Graphic Arts Division of the Office of War Information, although only two of the many posters he designed were published. In the 1940s, Shahn turned to what he called personal realism." His late work is often symbolic, allegorical, or religious and reflects his belief that "if we are to have values, a spiritual life, a culture, these things must find their imagery and their interpretation through the arts."

Shahn’s life work was infused with the political passions of his time. He expressed them by retelling the Hebrew Bible’s stories of slavery, exile and freedom in images of garment workers, cotton pickers, labor organizers, immigrants and refugees.

  • Ben Shahn, You Have Not Converted a Man Because You Have Silenced Him, 1968, offset lithograph on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Source unknown, 1997.37

    • While never a Communist or an avowed atheist, Shahn was close to many who were, including his second wife, the artist Bernarda Bryson. Yet he also was fiercely devoted to the First Amendment, with its vaunted four freedoms.

      “(It) held special significance for Shahn, as it did for many American Jews who aspired in the United States to achieve civil liberties denied them by European nations,” Linden writes.

      He observed the rise of Hitler from a distance with horror, deploying his art to battle the “fervent resistance to open immigration” that kept desperate Jews from a safe haven in the United States, she writes. The doors to freedom were shuttered by Americans’ fear of “unemployment, nativism and anti-Semitism” — fear stoked in the 2016 presidential campaign.

      Born September 12, 1898, Kaunas, Russia [now in Lithuania]—died March 14, 1969, New York, New York, U.S.

      Saturday, September 14, 2019

      Friday, September 13, 2019

      The Kinsey Sicks latest video "Don't Be Happy, Worry"

      So many worries, so little time! The Kinsey Sicks latest video "Don't Be Happy, Worry" is released just in time for The Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement! To our Jewish fans: it’ll help get you in shape for all the atoning you have to do (and yes, there is something important that you’ve forgotten). To our non-Jewish fans: aren’t you just a little worried that you don’t really know exactly what the Day of Atonement is???
      Even the atone-deaf will love this video, filmed in gorgeous San Francisco settings (Do you recognize the house from “Full House” in the backdrop?)!
      Please note that our video is NOT kosher to pass over,

      There are only 8 days of Chanukah, but 365 days of worrying! The Kinsey Sicks' anthem to anxiety is soon to become a holiday classic on par with Fox News’ War on Christmas and Satan's efforts to take the “Christ” out of “Starbucks”

      -The Kinsey Sicks

      Thursday, September 12, 2019

      Ethiopian New Year

      11th of Sep is the Ethiopian New Year. #Ethiopia uses its own calendar with 13 months in year. The 13th month has 5/6 days a leap year. Instead of fireworks+champagne They celebrate w/family, traditional food & honey wine #tej. chanting #Enkutatash. #HappyNewYear @BLAsia_Africa

      Wednesday, September 11, 2019

      Monday, September 9, 2019

      Pieter Bruegel. The greatest Flemish painter of the 16th century

      Dulle Griet, motivated by fury and going on the attack. Also Known as Mad Meg, she leads an army of women to attack and pillage Hell.

      Dulle Griet is determined to win - she leads her army through a fiery world to plunder at the gates of hell.

      A beautiful painting, full of symbolism. Icarus feather's and wax wings fail him at a crucial moment. Hubris triumphs over dubious modernity 

      The Painter and The Connoisseur, c. 1565, . Died on this day in Brussels, 1679. Died far too young - between the ages of 39 to 44. Wise, witty, brilliant artist - looking skeptical about the art buyer looking over his shoulder. 

      The Peasant Dance (1568), Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, oil on oak panel
      The Harvesters (1565), oil on panel, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
      Pieter Bruegel, the Elder, by name Peasant Bruegel, Dutch Pieter Bruegel De Oudere or Boeren Bruegel, Bruegel also spelled Brueghel or Breughel, (born c. 1525, probably Breda, duchy of Brabant [now in the Netherlands]—died Sept. 5/9, 1569, Brussels [now in Belgium]), the greatest Flemish painter of the 16th century, whose landscapes and vigorous, often witty scenes of peasant life are particularly renowned. Since Bruegel signed and dated many of his works, his artistic evolution can be traced from the early landscapes, in which he shows affinity with the Flemish 16th-century landscape tradition, to his last works, which are Italianate. He exerted a strong influence on painting in the Low Countries, and through his sons Jan and Pieter he became the ancestor of a dynasty of painters that survived into the 18th century

      Saturday, September 7, 2019

      Caspar David Friedrich. A Virgo birthday for this painter of romantic and mysterious landscapes

      German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich was born on September 6 in 1774 - another Virgo like Queen Elizabeth 1. Growing up in Europe during a period of disillusionment with society, Friedrich was best known for the themes of nature and spirituality that are prominent in his work. Landscape with an Obelisk, c. 1803

      Right-hand window of Caspar David Friedrich's studio in 1805. Site of dreams, and boats.

      The tide flows in, the tide flows out, ships great & small navigate it. Periods of life, 1834, by Caspar David Friedrich.

      On the boat w/ Caspar David Friedrich in 1818, sailing off to some misty place of promise.

      Looking out into infinity from the chalk cliffs of RĂ¼gen in 1818 with Caspar David Friedrich.

      Contemplating a vast, formless infinity: Wanderer above a Sea of Mist, by Caspar David Friedrich, 1818.

      His works were coloured by his imaginative response to the atmosphere of the Baltic coast and the Harz Mountains, which he found both awesome and ominous. In 1824 he was made a professor of the Royal Dresden Art Academy, though not in the capacity he had wished for. In 1835 he suffered a stroke from which he never recovered, and a second stroke in 1837 caused him almost complete paralysis. His reputation was in decline by the time of his death as the Romantic movement gave way to Realism. For a long time his work was forgotten; it was revived in the 20th century, and the artist’s reputation continued to strengthen into the 21st.