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Ben Shahn


Ben Shahn printmaker, painter, muralist, was born in Kovno, Lithuania in 1898.   He arrived in the United States in 1908 with his family and settled in Brooklyn.  He was apprenticed to a lithographer after finishing elementary school at the age of fourteen.  As an apprentice, he spent long hours of work grinding stones and lettering stones.  He once stated that he made "thousands and thousands of letters."  It is fortunate that he liked the history of alphabets because he would use them throughout his artistic career.  During his lifetime, he loved to draw, paint, and make prints.  Often the subject of a drawing became a print and/or a painting.  Shahn believed in hard work and craftsmanship - qualities that would stay with him throughout his career.

Shahn's first published lithographs were in 1931 and were issued in portfolios.  His first individual print was produced in 1936.  He is well known for his social imagery of the Civil Rights Movement and posters showing the horrors of WWII.  He produced over 249 prints during his life.  There are additional images that were printed after his death in 1969 that were not editioned during his lifetime.