Handball (1939) by Ben Shahn

Handball - Ben Shahn - 1939

Artwork Information

ArtistBen Shahn
MediumTempera on paper over composition board
Dimensions22 3/4 x 31 1/4 in
Art MovementSocial Realism
Current LocationMuseum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York City, NY, US
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About Handball

Ben Shahn was a prominent painter as well as a photographer, well-known for his left-wing political activism and social realism of the 1930s. In 1939, Shahn brought to life a painting titled “Handball,” featuring handball players with positions transcribed from his photographs. The painting showcases the positions of the athletes in action with bold colors.

Despite being popular for art that shed light on social injustice and honored everyday people, he was also involved in creating posters supporting Franklin Roosevelt’s reelection campaign in 1944. Another notable work by Shahn is “Allegory,” which displays a red beast standing over piles of dead children’s bodies.

Born outside Russia, Ben Shahn spent most of his life in America after immigrating there as a child and apprenticing to a lithographer after completing high school education. One notable detail about him is that he worked not only as an artist but also as an activist who highlighted the hardships faced by rural Americans during the Great Depression.

In summary, Ben Shane’s work on Handball showcased his proficiency at capturing motion through paintings transcribed from photography while continuing themes dear to him like social justice through art.

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