Artists of the same generation but opposite political views Mario Sironi and Ben Shahn—in Irina Kulik’s next lecture.
Throughout his lengthy career, modernist Italian artist and sculptor Mario Sironi (1985–1961) went through a number of influences, from Futurism, abstraction and metaphysical painting in the 1910–1920s to brutalism under the reign of Mussolini during the 1930s, and back to more traditional representation in the postwar period. Closely associated with Fascism, Sironi’s practice remained largely overlooked by art historians and critics until 1980s, when his works were exhibited in a number of important group shows, including Les Réalismes at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (1981) and Italian Art in the Twentieth Century at the Royal Academy of Arts, London (1989).
Ben Shahn (1898–1969) was an American modernist artist best known for socialist realist paintings and left-wing political views. Born in Lithuania, he moved to New York with his parents in 1906. Dissatisfied with the lack of social commitment in many twentieth-century modernist movements, by the 1930s Shahn turned to realism. In 1933, he assisted Diego Rivera in executing a monumental mural for the Rockefeller Center. Shahn’s mediums include painting, collage, photography, murals, prints, and graphic arts. He is also known for public commissions, commercial work for various magazines and TV, and academic teaching, especially in the last few decades of his life. Together with Willem de Kooning, Shahn represented the USA at the 27th Venice Biennale in 1954.