This award-winning 2001 PBS documentary tells the story of the socially engaged, 20th Century American artist Ben Shahn (1898-1969). During the 1940s, he was the best known artist in America, with his work at the Museum of Modern Art and on the cover of Time Magazine. From his start in a printer’s shop, Shahn became a successful painter as well as a commercial artist, FSA photographer, War Department graphic artist, and muralist. Shahn immigrated to New York from Lithuania as a child with his family, eventually moving to Jersey Homesteads (Roosevelt), New Jersey.
Interviews include the artist’s wife Bernarda Bryson Shahn (1903-2004), his biographer and friend Howard Greenfeld, and his children, the artists Judith, Jonathan, and Abby Shahn. Rare television interviews feature Ben Shahn himself. Art historians Frances Pohl, Alejandro Anreus, and Laura Katzman reflect on the connection between his photography and his painting, how his political views affected his work, and his continued relevance as an artist today.
Produced and directed by Susan Wallner, with original music by John Hodian. Filmed in 16mm by Jeff Reisly, with audio by Bob Szuter.
Worldfest Houston Gold Special Jury Award, US International Film and Video Festival First Place: Arts, Columbus International Film and Video Festival Bronze Plaque, CINE Golden Eagle.
Funding was provided by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Educational Television Association, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.