Tag Archives: Sunday Paintings

Ben Shahn’s Sunday Paintings: Transformation of a Social Realist (Published)

Ben Shahn’s exhibition of Sunday Paintings (1940) evidenced the metamorphosis of one of America’s foremost social realists. A variety of personal and professional factors compelled Shahn to reevaluate his artistic direction. This essay helps explain the artist’s metamorphosis by exploring 1) a shift in American art criticism in favor of modernism, and 2) Shahn’s involvement with the Resettlement/Farm Security Administration and his development of a photographic aesthetic. The aim is to elucidate primary reasons for the stylistic shift of a major twentieth-century American painter.

Keywords: Ben Shahn, New Deal, Photography, Social Realism, Sunday Paintings