Gelatin silver print
Image: 16.2 x 24.2 cm (6 3/8 x 9 1/2 in.); Paper: 20.6 x 25.3 cm (8 1/8 x 9 15/16 in.); Matted: 35.6 x 45.7 cm (14 x 18 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1996.359
© Estate of Ben Shahn / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY
Active as a photographer in the mid-1930s, Ben Shahn learned photography from Walker Evans with whom he shared a studio in New York in 1929. Between 1935 and 1938, Shahn worked for the Farm Security Administration documenting the life of rural America during the Depression. In a direct and straightforward style, Shahn recorded the farmlands, mining towns, and main streets of America such as in Street Scene in Columbus, Ohio. Using a Leica camera with a right-angle viewfinder, Shahn was able to record his subjects unaware which added a powerful spontaneity to his photographs. The combination of the frontality of the subject matter, the flatness of space, and image text creates a strong graphic quality in the photographs reminiscent of his prints and paintings.
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