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David Siqueiros Self-Portrait

National Portrait Gallery

David Alfaro Siqueiros

National Portrait Gallery

Creating a Citified Community on the National Mall

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

In reflecting on our experiences at the 2012 Folklife Festival, the team of interns from the Citified: Arts and Creativity East of the Anacostia River program kept coming back to the concept of community. For us, the notion of community includes working together towards a common goal, bonding over shared experiences, forming ideas through different perspectives, and creating a comfortable environment. Throughout our two weeks spent on the National Mall, we experienced firsthand all of these aspects of community as they developed within the Citified program.

Before the festival began, participating artists were already excited to bring east-of-the-river experiences, history, and culture to the National Mall and to increase the visibility of and appreciation for this often-misrepresented and overlooked hub of creativity. We were especially moved by the encouraging atmosphere the participating artists created at their pre-festival orientation. Although many participants were meeting for the first time, they already exhibited a sense of support and connection.

Citified
Master griot and storyteller Baba-C includes children from the audience in his stories on the Good Hope and Naylor Corner stage.
Photo by Jennie Terman

We noticed that many of the participating artists shared the experience of growing up in an area where overcoming obstacles related to racial and economic inequities was a part of daily life, and they are drawn to art and creativity as means for engaging and empowering their communities.

The Taratibu Youth Association, for example, prides itself on engendering self-respect among their members through dance and song. One of our favorite songs was “Black Girls,” a piece that responds to misconceptions about African American names and encourages women to embrace their names and heritage.

Although the participating artists had myriad talents and passions, they all hold similar values when it comes to art, education, and community engagement. For example, master storyteller Baba-C uses the art of storytelling to share messages about self-esteem and heritage; Melvin Deal, the founding director of African Heritage Dancers and Drummers, uses drumming and movement to express similar messages about self-respect and cultural background. Tattoo artist Charles “Coco” Bayron discussed the importance of tattoos to personal identity construction by telling a story of an individual’s life and heritage.

Citified
Melvin Deal and the African Heritage Dancers and Drummers perform on the Good Hope and Naylor Corner stage.
Photo by Jennie Terman
Citified
The Taratibu Youth Association performs on the Panarama Room stage.
Photo by Jennie Terman

Over the course of the Festival, the Citified staff, participating artists, and festival-goers collaborated on the creation of a comfortable and nurturing environment. The artists supported one another, which created a strong sense of camaraderie. For example, Baba-C made an effort to learn from different artists, contribute to the discussions, and intermittently exclaim, “Yebo!” (“yes!” in Zulu) in encouragement.

Easy-going even in extreme heat, the Iverson Mall Line Dancers motivated audiences to get up and participate in popular dances like the “Wobble” and “Cupid Shuffle.” Albus Cavus, a muralist collective, were a continuous force in strengthening the Citified community and enlivening the program site through ongoing demonstrations by artists and by encouraging visitors to participate in creating murals. While some parents were worried their children would interfere with the artists’ work, Albus Cavus strongly encouraged the children and all visitors to contribute.

Citified
The Iverson Mall Line Dancers show festival-goers how they can move despite the heat.
Photo by Jennie Terman
Citified
Interns Jennie Terman and Malik Stevenson take a break to play a game of horseshoes.
Photo by Jasmine Reid

Also scattered through the program site were several other activities and features designed to make people feel at home. Chess, checkers, dominos, horseshoes, and a sprinkler (for the extra hot days) brought artist and festival-goers together for informal interaction and fun. Playing games, such as dominos and horseshoes, on the National Mall was a unique experience indeed. Staff, interns, and participants all got involved, and in this way, had the opportunity to experience the festival as visitors did.

Additionally, artists enjoyed complimentary homemade mambo sauce, a favorite D.C. condiment, which was available in the Citified tents to make artists feel more at home, while simultaneously enhancing the flavor of the Citified program.

The Citified Chuck Brown Tribute Day on July 7 especially solidified a sense of community among artists, visitors, and staff/interns/volunteers through shared celebration of the late “Godfather of Go-Go,” Chuck Brown. Throughout the festival, many participants referenced the influence that Chuck Brown has had on their art. Jay Coleman painted a portrait of Chuck, collaborating with visitors to create the final product.

On the Chuck Brown Tribute Day, the Good Hope and Naylor Corner tent hosted various narrative sessions and discussions on go-go, including a talk with past members of the Chuck Brown Band. During “Go-Go Then/Go-Go Now,” a narrative session about the history of go-go music and culture, participant Christylez Bacon shared his human beat-boxing talent to illustrate an example of the go-go beats being discussed.

Despite the 105-degree weather, an hour of go-go fitness drew a huge crowd that moved their bodies and exercised to Chuck Brown songs and other go-go hits. During the performances of go-go music on the main Panorama Room stage, members of the Taratibu Youth Association and the African Heritage Dancers and Drummers were among the most energetic dancers in the audience. Go-go music brought together in celebration a huge east-of-the-river contingent to the Festival, as well as many other Washingtonians and additional visitors.

Citified
Children play in a sprinkler as they try to keep cool in the 105-degree heat.
Photo by Jennie Terman

By the end of the ten-day festival, these instances of camaraderie all experienced in a physical space on the National Mall created the community atmosphere that was felt. The creative people from East of the Anacostia River, Citified staff, interns, and presenters, and festival visitors talked together, listened to and supported each other, experimented with new ideas, played music, danced, made art, worked, ate at the community barbeque and drank smoothies, enjoyed each other’s company, laughed, and relaxed together. To us, that is community. It may have been a temporary community during the two-week festival, but we hope that the artists, staff, and festival visitors will bring the experience and feeling of community home with them and continue the atmosphere of the festival in their own communities.

Kate Aebischer, Malik Stefan Stevenson, and Jennie Terman were interns for the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival program Citified: Arts and Creativity East of the Anacostia River. Aebischer is studying anthropology at The College of New Jersey. Stevenson is studying Spanish Literature at Xavier University of Louisiana. Terman is a graduate student at the University of Maryland where she studies ethnomusicology and is a teaching assistant for a course, The Impact of Music on Life.

Could This Work Be Leonardo da Vinci's Only Known Sculpture?

Smithsonian Magazine

Leonardo da Vinci was the master of several mediums: he was a painter, a draftsman, engineer, sketch artist and a muralist. Now, one art historian wants to add accomplished sculptor to that bevvy of accomplishments. Italian academic Francesco Caglioti of University Federico II in Naples believes a 20-inch-tall, red-clay sculpture Virgin with the Laughing Child held by London’s Victoria & Albert Museum since 1858 should be attributed to the master, Jonathan Jones at The Guardian reports.

Caglioti, a well-respected expert on 15th-century, believes Leonardo created the terracotta sculpture when he was a young man working with his mentor, Florentine Renaissance artist Andrea del Verrocchio.

He points out similarities to da Vinci’s paintings as evidence. The smile of the Virgin in the sculpture, for instance, is reminiscent of the smile of St. Anne in da Vinci’s painting The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne. The way the robes drape over the figure’s knees in the sculpture have the same type of movement.

The realistic look of the infant in the sculpture, a laughing Christ child, also shows the same attention to detail da Vinci pays to the faces of children in his other works. In fact, laughter itself may be a clue, Jones reports. Portraying the baby Jesus as a happy, giggling child would have been borderline blasphemous at the time the sculpture was created, and in his notebooks Leonardo records getting in trouble when he was younger for the way he portrayed the baby Jesus.

The V&A is more hesitant about attributing the statue to the master. Currently, the museum considers the statue to be the work of Antonio Rossellino. But Caglioti says that attribution has little evidence to support it and comes from one source, the late British Museum director John Pope-Hennessy who was a Rossellino promoter.

Other art experts also want more evidence. “We do not have any sculptures made by Leonardo, so there is no comparison,” Leipzig University art historian Frank Zollner tells Harris, pointing out that the smile, as the late art historian Ernst Gombrich established, was something that Leonardo himself got from Verrocchio, who in addition to being Leonardo’s mentor, is another of the artists along with Desiderio da Settignano who have been suggested as the sculptor’s creator.

But it’s not unreasonable to think there may be da Vinci sculptures hiding out there. It’s well known that da Vinci worked as a sculptor throughout his life, creating some works in Verrocchio’s studio, though none of his three-dimensional works are known to still exist. In fact, there are many sketches of his greatest unrealized sculptural works. He could never overcome the engineering obstacles to produce his designs for a massive bronze horse he envisioned for Francesco Sforza, the Duke of Milan. Similar problems plagued his designs for a massive bronze horse and rider that would sit atop the tomb of Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, who conquered Milan for the French and served as its governor.

This isn’t the only “new” Leonardo to hit the scene recently. Last week, experts cautiously suggested it’s possible that a nude charcoal drawing called “Monna Vanna” may be attributable to the artist. And then there’s “Salvator Mundi” the world’s most expensive painting which fetched $450 million at auction in 2017. Though some art historians have attributed the majority of the work to Leonardo, others argue he only contributed five to 20 percent of the painting.

While the V&A remains cautious on Caglioti’s study, Virgin with the Laughing Child just went on display at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence as part of an exhibition called “Verrochio, Master of Leonardo.” The exhibit will travel to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. later this year, but the purported da Vinci sculpture will not make the trip. But the V&A isn’t closing the door on the scholarship.

“A potential attribution to Leonardo da Vinci was first proposed in 1899, so Professor Caglioti’s study opens up the discussion of its authorship afresh,” a museum spokesperson tells Gareth Harris at The Art Newspaper. “The V&A welcomes ongoing discussion with colleagues worldwide: research into our collections is continuous.”

Celebrate Mother's Day With These Artworks From the Smithsonian Collections

Smithsonian Magazine

One of the most prominent bonds in human portraiture is that of mother and child, one that returns again each spring in Mother’s Day cards. The Smithsonian museums have a wealth of such art. Search "mother" in the collections and hundreds of thousands of records are revealed from portraits of Mother Theresa to drawings of Mother Goose. For centuries any artistic rendering of mother and child meant religious images of the Madonna and child. One of the oldest is a 17th-century etching of the Madonna with the Christ child on her lap holding a carnation.

The unbreakable bonds of a mother and her child seem to share a universal appeal across abstract, folk art, photography, sculpture and paint. At a time when the museums are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the online collections at the Smithsonian—recently made all the more available with a new open access platform—offer myriad ways to explore and entertain. We sought out works of art honoring mothers and their children and here we present 16 of our findings.

The Madonna and Child by Jean Morin after Raphael

The Modonna and Child by Jean Morin after Rafael, ca. 1630 (Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum )

Italian Renaissance artist Raphael was well-known for his many images of the Madonna and child, but it was only in 1991 that scholars determined that the 1507 Madonna of the Pinks was actually a Raphael original and not a copy. The work, now in London’s National Gallery, launched a number of its own reproductions including this circa 1640 etching by the French artist Jean Morin (1605-1650) from the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City. It was based on an earlier copy, known as the Pembroke Madonna by an unidentified artist. Morin inverted that image but kept the playfulness between the mother and child in their handling of a symbolic carnation.

Whistler’s Mother, Postage Stamp

3-cent Mothers of America, Whistler's mother rotary press single, U.S. Postal Service, 1934-1935 (National Postal Museum)

A special three-cent postage stamp “in memory and in honor of the mothers of America” issued by the U.S. Post Office in March 1935 and archived today at the National Postal Museum, drew on the familiar portrait profile known as “Whistler’s Mother.” James McNeill Whistler painted what might be his most famous image in 1871. At the time, his stern-faced mom, Anna McNeill Whistler was living with him in London. Whistler initially intended a full-length portrait; she literally wouldn’t stand for that, so she sat. Held by the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the sentimental image has a strictly unsentimental title: Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1. In this postage stamp, giving her the Mother’s Day salute, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt is credited with adding the dedication and designer Victor S. McCloskey of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing crafted the floral arrangement.

Gardner (Cassatt) Held by His Mother by Mary Cassatt

Gardner (Cassatt) Held by His Mother by Mary Cassatt, ca. 1889 (Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, gift of Samuel P. Avery )

Mother and child portraits were practically the signature of American impressionist painter Mary Cassatt with nearly one-third of her entire output devoted to the theme. One of the earliest dated examples of this interest came with the portrait of her nephew Joseph Gardner Cassatt III, held by her sister-in-law Eugenie Carter. The quick drypoint sketch at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, showed what was of interest to the artist—the faces of the two figures, with the rest only sketched in outline. The drawing would precede a few other portraits of the lad and his mother. It wouldn’t continue; the two women had a falling out over women’s suffrage in 1915.

Mother of Twins by Bamgboye

Helmet mask, Iyaibeji, Mother of Twins by The Alaga of Odo-Owa, Bamgboye, early to mid-20th century (National Museum of African Art)

There is a whole lot going on in this elaborate helmet mask from the Ekiti State of Nigeria from the collections of the National Museum of African Art. But, worn at dances to honor Yoruba ancestors to promote fertility, this one is titled Iyaibeji or Mother of Twins. Certainly, the spotted-faced mother predominates in the early to mid-20th century work by Yoruba artist Bamgboye. She sits atop on a stool with two male figures on each knee, each of whom are holding giant fans. Elsewhere, among the six figures on the base, two hold reigns to rams, another nurses a baby and a male drums away. Sometimes motherhood feels like this.

Sotho Mothers and Children by Constance Stuart Larrabee

Sotho Mothers and Children by Constance Stuart Larrabee, 1941 (National Museum of African Art, Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives)

Born in England and raised in South Africa, photographer Constance Stuart Larrabee caught this image of a pair of mother and children in Basutolan—the present day Lesotho—as part of her lifelong work documenting tribal culture in South Africa. She had a portrait studio in Pretoria and was the official photographer of the 1947 visit of the British royal family to the continent. Larrabee was drawn to indigenous cultures and elegantly captured these mothers nursing their children outside a round, roofless clay house where inside, grass is bundled and stacked. Larrabee's image is held by the National Museum of African Art in the Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives. When the National Party took power in 1948 and instituted apartheid, the photographer left South Africa for America the following year.

Mother and Children by Jacob Kainen

Mother and Children by Jacob Kainen, 1965 (Anacostia Community Museum, gift from the Trustees of the Corcoran Gallery of Art (Friends of the Corcoran Gallery of Art))

Painter and printer Jacob Kainen (1909-2001), shifted his artistic approach from abstraction to social realism and back in his long career. He did so mostly in Washington D.C., where he curated and greatly grew the Smithsonian Graphics Art department and helped kickstart the Washington Color School by introducing Morris Louis to Kenneth Noland. Kainen’s association with Arshile Gorky in New York may have led to this 1965 portrait of a mother and three children, not just in subject, but also in the way he used paint. “He taught me the importance of composing a painting,” Kainen said in 1982, “the importance of the feeling of pigment, the importance of one edge of an area against another.” Kainen's Mother and Children is housed at the Anacostia Community Museum.

Black Panther mother and her newborn son, Baby Jesus X, San Francisco, California, No. 125 by Ruth-Marion Baruch

Black Panther mother and her newborn son, Baby Jesus X, San Francisco, California, No. 125 by Ruth-Marion Baruch, October 1, 1968, printed 2010 (NMAAHC, © 2011 Pirkle Jones Foundation)

The 1968 portrait of mother and son, shot in the San Francisco home of Eldridge Cleaver, the political activist, writer and leader of Black Panther Party, is one of several of the young family of David Lewis that was part of a portfolio of works by Ruth-Marion Baruch and her husband Pirkle Jones, A Photographic Essay on the Black Panthers. Baruch had introduced herself to Kathleen Cleaver in 1968. Concerned about the group’s portrayal in the media, the photographer wanted to present a more balanced view. The German-born Baruch was in the first class of photography offered by the California School of Fine Arts, whose faculty included Ansel Adams, Minor White, Edward Weston and Dorothea Lange. The image can be found in the collections of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Mother and Child by Mark Power

Mother and Child by Mark Power, 1973 (SAAM, © 1973, Mark Power)

The guileless toddler and be-hatted mother in this photograph from the Smithsonian American Art Museum are not identified, but they exemplify a quote photographer Mark Power once made: “I always love photographing children. Adults have learned to put on a photographic presence; children haven’t learned that.” And while in many photos of mother and child it’s the young one who squirms, here the daughter is absolutely calm while the mother waves an arm in a blur. Born in Washington, D.C. and living for a spell on a farm in Leesburg, Virginia, Power founded D.C.’s first photography gallery, the long-gone Icon, and taught for 27 years at the Corcoran School of Art before moving to England (where there is another famed photographer named Mark Power).

Mother and Child by Mary Louise Lopez

Mother and Child by Mary Louise Lopez, 1995 (NMAH, Women's History Collection, U.S. Department of Labor Women's Bureau)

Having traveled throughout Mexico, Central America, South America and the American Southwest, the work of San Antonio artist Mary Louise Lopez has a message: “Here are a people with a sense of strength, pride and serenity in themselves and their heritage. They represent the best that is in all of us.” With a caption of “Women’s Work Counts,” her oil of a Native American woman with baby on her back was one of nine works commissioned for a set of 1995 posters celebrating the 75th anniversary of the creation of the Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor. “I just have great admiration for these people,” Lopez said at the time. “It takes so much to live and survive.” The poster is now in the Women's History collections of the National Museum of American History. The Women’s Bureau marks its 100th anniversary June 5, 2020.

Young Mother by William H. Johnson

Young Mother by William H. Johnson, ca. 1944-1945 (SAAM, gift of the Harmon Foundation)

This striking and vividly colorful portrait of mother and child is one of more than a thousand paintings held at the Smithsonian American Art Museum by the noted American painter William H. Johnson. The cache of works had been nearly destroyed in 1956 because of an inability to pay storage fees. A foundation bought the work and donated it to the Smithsonian 11 years later. Johnson died in 1970 in a New York state hospital, where he had spent his final 23 years in obscurity. Born in South Carolina, Johnson studied in New York, Europe and North Africa before returning home in 1944 to make observational art like this. “Even if I have studied for many years and all over the world,” he once said,“I still have been able to preserve the primitive in me.”

Mother and Child by Henry Moore

Mother and Child by Henry Moore, 1953 (Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden )

British modernist sculptor Henry Moore (1898-1986) tackled the mother and child theme numerous times in his career. While those he completed during World War II reflected a more nurturing role from the mother, this 20-inch bronze at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden focuses more on the aggressive needs of the child as it seems about to attack the mother's breast with its bird-like beak. For her part, spiky-headed mom holds back the child as if in a stranglehold. “I wanted this to seem as though the child was trying to devour its parent,” Moore said in 1974, “as though the parent, the mother had to hold the child at arm’s length.” Occasional confrontation is part of motherhood as well, though usually not so violently.

Mother and Child by Paul Peter Piech

Mother and Child by Paul Peter Piech, 1949 (Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum )

Brooklyn-born printmaker and graphic designer Paul Peter Piech (1920-1996) is best known for his striking linocuts on political and human rights issues. His pieces often used blocks of expressive text, with activist slogans or long quotes from figures like Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu and JFK. His bold works also expressed enthusiasm for jazz and literary giants from Goethe to Blake. But for his 1949 lithograph Mother and Child, from the Cooper Hewitt, he eschewed the words for a monochromatic domestic abstraction. And just as he didn’t use words for the work, he also stepped away from bold black and white linocuts for more subtle shadings.

Mother and Child by Pitseolak Niviaqsi

Mother and Child by Pitseolak Niviaqsi, 1983-1984 (National Museum of the American Indian)

Kinngait, the Inuit hamlet formerly known as Cape Dorset, is located near the southern tip of Baffin Island in the Qikitaaluk Region of Nunavut, the newest, largest and most northerly territory in Canada. As remote as it is, Kinngait has been known as the capital of Inuit art and printmaking, with carving the community’s main economic activity. Pitseolak Niviaqsi (1947-2015) was part of establishing that legacy. A printmaker as well, his work was in nearly every year’s Cape Dorset Annual Print Collection from 1975 to 2011. This two-foot-high work of carved and polished serpentine, from the National Museum of the American Indian, made in 1983-84, shows a kneeling mother carrying on her back a playful or otherwise uncooperative child, who is leaning back and yanking mom’s braid.

Mother West Wind by Bertha Lum

Mother West Wind by Bertha Lum, 1921 (National Museum of Asian Art, Robert O. Muller Collection)

Like Charles Lang Freer, the founder of the Freer Gallery of Art, Bertha Lum was an American who became enamored of Asian art. The Iowan traveled to Japan several times to learn the traditional methods of woodcuts there known as ukiyo-e, and became so adept that she was the only female artist to exhibit at the Tokyo International Exhibition. Credited with helping to popularize the Japanese and Chinese woodblock print outside of Asia, Lum eventually moved to China for 30 years to live and work. She died in Italy in 1954. Her 1921 work, held by the National Museum of Asian Art, drawing on art nouveau forms popular at the time, depicts an elemental matriarch from Japanese myth swirling in the moonlight, with babies in her wake, as an owl flies below.

Mother Feeding Children by Eddie Arning

Mother Feeding Children by Eddie Arning, 1973 (SAAM, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Sackton)

A chief duty of motherhood is making sure the children get enough to eat, and the trio in this 1973 work by Eddie Arning, from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, certainly shows an appetite for whatever mom is about to serve. Like many of the works of the self-taught Texan, Arning fills the picture with color from edge to edge, using oil pastel crayons. Born in 1898, Arning was sent to a mental institution as a young man and began his art in 1964, 60 years after entering. Within a decade, he had completed more than 2,000 works. This was among his last; he stopped drawing in 1974, a year after being forced to leave the institution. Arning died in 1993.

Mother & Daughter by Mitchell Siporin

Mother & Daughter by Mitchell Siporin, 1951 (Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden )

Many artistic images of motherhood show babies or small children, but what about the bond between mother and grown daughter? That’s the focus of this shimmering 1951 painting from the Hirshhorn by social realist painter Mitchell Siporin, who grew up in Chicago and who took part in the Works Progress Administration becoming an accomplished muralist before founding the Department of Fine Arts at Brandeis University. The women in this oil painting seem dressed for a big event. Besides the family resemblance of handsome faces and long necks, they also seem to share an interest in fancy headgear. Siporin died in 1976, but his own daughter Rachel Siporin is a painter in Connecticut.

Carlo Ciampaglia at work

Archives of American Art
1 photographic print : silver gelatin ; 26 x 21 cm. Ciampaglia painting a mural.

Identification on verso (handwritten): 1091 M. Therese Bonney

Carl Wimar Self-Portrait

National Portrait Gallery

Carl Wimar

National Portrait Gallery
Carl Wimar aspired to establish a reputation as the painter of the American West. Immigrating to St. Louis in 1844, Wimar became interested at an early age in the region's history and Native peoples. He apprenticed with a local house and steamboat painter before deciding to pursue academic study in Düsseldorf, Germany, with artist Emanuel Leutze. Returning to St. Louis in 1856, Wimar began to make regular sketching trips out onto the frontier to better understand the subject he longed to paint. His canvases tended to perpetuate mythic ideas about the West and the Native Americans who lived there, yet he was one of the earliest painters to devote himself exclusively to this subject. Wimar's paintings attracted favorable comment, and in 1861 he was commissioned to create four murals to decorate the dome of the new St. Louis Courthouse. Wimar completed the series but died of tuberculosis shortly thereafter at age thirty-four.

Boardman Robinson Self-Portrait

National Portrait Gallery

Boardman Robinson

National Portrait Gallery

Boardman Robinson

National Portrait Gallery

Boardman Robinson

National Portrait Gallery

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National Museum of the American Indian

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National Museum of the American Indian

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National Museum of the American Indian

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National Museum of the American Indian

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National Museum of the American Indian

Bernarda Bryson Shahn

National Portrait Gallery
Bernarda Bryson Shahn spent her long life as an artist, writer, and activist. While working as a journalist in her native Ohio, she traveled to New York to interview the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. There she met Rivera's assistant, Ben Shahn, and the two became a couple, living together for nearly thirty years before marrying at the end of Ben Shahn's life. During the 1930s they traveled through the United States, documenting rural life for the Resettlement Administration; both artists made posters and prints based on this experience. Peter Paone was Ben Shahn's assistant around 1955, and afterward continued to be close to the couple, co-curating an exhibition of Bernarda's prints in 2001. Paone's intimate painting reveals Bernarda Shahn's vivacity in the face of great age.

Bernard Zakheim and Julia Rogers work on Coit Tower mural

Archives of American Art
1 photographic print : b&w ; 15 x 10 cm

Ben Shahn

National Portrait Gallery
Calder here portrays Ben Shahn as a person of tenacious resolve, ready to do battle for various political causes. The relationship between Calder and the social realist painter may seem highly improbable: while Shahn devoted his life and his art to liberal causes, Calder generally eschewed political issues in his art. However, along with his wife Louisa, Calder was deeply committed to liberal politics. With the rapid escalation of the Vietnam War in the 1960s, Calder and Shahn together advocated for an activist group called SANE (Sane Nuclear Policy), and both contributed posters and money for countless liberal and humanitarian organizations. As revealed through their lively correspondence, they also greatly enjoyed one another's company.

Ben Shahn

National Portrait Gallery

Ben Shahn

National Portrait Gallery

Ben Shahn

National Portrait Gallery
Ben Shahn, a painter, photographer, and graphic artist, infused his works with a passion that made them both works of art and political statements. In 1932 he created a famous series on the Italian-American anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti, whose trial was widely criticized for its denial of due process. Shahn, a staunch New Dealer, painted murals and did other commissions for the government arts and public works programs. In this photograph by Ronny Jaques, Shahn, a strong supporter of labor, is shown with his poster, commissioned by the Congress of Industrial Organizations, urging workers to register to vote. Shahn's later work became more abstract and allegorical, although still politically charged, and in his last years he turned to religious themes, creating illustrated versions of books from scripture and the Torah.

Ben Shahn

National Portrait Gallery
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