Vacant Lot (1939) by Ben Shahn

Vacant Lot - Ben Shahn - 1939

Artwork Information

TitleVacant Lot
ArtistBen Shahn
MediumWatercolor and gouache on paper mounted on plywood panel
Dimensions19 x 23 in
Current LocationWadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut

About Vacant Lot

Ben Shahn’s artwork “Untitled (Boys in Vacant Lot)” is a gelatin silver print created in 1931-32, exemplifying his brand of realism that resonated during the Great Depression. His desire to create narrative art that focuses on social and political justice have come to exemplify Social Realism and the art of social consciousness.

This particular piece captures two young boys playing in a desolate vacant lot, which may have been influenced by the desolation brought about by the Great Depression. This theme is evident in much of Shahn’s photography, which captured the plight of farm families during this time period.

Shahn’s career took off in the 1930s as his unique style resonated with those who appreciated a deeper level of meaning and symbolism in their art. Much like other Social Realists, such as Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans, Shahn used his photography to convey powerful messages about society.

Overall, Ben Shahn’s artwork “Untitled (Boys in Vacant Lot)” is not only an engaging portrayal of everyday life but also serves as a reflection of American history during one of its darkest periods – a testament to how art can be used to tell stories beyond just beauty and aesthetics.

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