Quotes by: Ben Shahn

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Ben Shahn
Born Benjamin Shahn
(1898-09-12)September 12, 1898
Kaunas, Russian Empire (present-day Lithuania)
Died March 14, 1969(1969-03-14) (aged 70)
New York City, New York,
United States
Nationality Lithuanian American
Education Lithographer's Apprentice, Art Student at City College of New York and at the National Academy of Design
Known for Painting, illustration, graphic art, photography, writing
Notable work Nicola Sacco & Bartolomeo series and Jersey Homesteads Mural
Movement Social realism
Spouse(s) Tillie Goldstein (m. 1924; 2 children; divorced)
Bernarda Bryson (m. 1935; 3 children)

I've been asked a great deal about the influence I've had with my work and it's impossible to say, you know.
Ben Shahn
Now, when I came on to Washington to begin my job, I was so interested in photography at that time that I really would have preferred to work with Stryker than with my department, which was more artistic if you wish.
Ben Shahn
The time when I had desire to go to the United States I didn't have a penny. It was in the middle of the depression, you know. I couldn't get as far as Hoboken at that time.
Ben Shahn
It's a little bit like my inability to read a guide book before I go anywhere. I can read it after I've been there and by the same logic I refuse to accept any technical stunts from anybody. I refused to learn more than I knew and I confess I missed a great deal.
Ben Shahn
Of course I realize that photography is not the technical facility as much as it is the eye, and this decision that one makes for the moment at which you are going to snap, you know.
Ben Shahn
I felt very strongly the whole social impact of that depression, you know, and I felt very strongly about the efforts that this Resettlement Administration was trying to accomplish; resettling people, helping them, and so on.
Ben Shahn
I did take my camera along, as I felt there wouldn't be enough time to draw the things I wanted to do. I did some drawing and did a lot of photography but I was not part of Stryker's outfit at all.
Ben Shahn
I was brought in, not in the photographic department at all, I was brought in on a thing called Special Skills. I was to do posters, pamphlets, murals, propaganda in general, you know.
Ben Shahn
I was primarily interested in people, and people in action, so that I did nothing photographically in the sense of doing buildings for their own sake or a still life or anything like that.
Ben Shahn
It used to be twelve people crowded around a sewing table; now it's ten.
Ben Shahn
I feel, having the choices I had, I felt I had more control over my own medium than I did over photography.
Ben Shahn
An amateur is someone who supports himself with outside jobs which enable him to paint. A professional is someone whose wife works to enable him to paint.
Ben Shahn
In the South or in the mine country, wherever you point the camera there is a picture.
Ben Shahn
When you talk about war on poverty it doesn't mean very much; but if you can show to some degree this sort of thing then you can show a great deal more of how people are living and a very great percentage of our people today.
Ben Shahn
I remember traveling around in Arkansas with Senator Robinson, and I told him what this little trick was. He felt very much part of it and had me take pictures of people unbeknownst to them.
Ben Shahn
I was so impressed with the work we were doing and I was very involved ideologically in photography - that I arranged an exhibition at the College Art Association. The first exhibition I picked the photographs and so on and we had an exhibition in New York.
Ben Shahn
I became interested in photography when I found my own sketching was inadequate.
Ben Shahn
Some time ago, we went to Asia and took a camera along, and I began to do what I'd done even years ago doing people. I couldn't get interested in it. And I did hundreds of photographs of details of the monuments as sculpture.
Ben Shahn
In '38, this time I did a job for Mr. Stryker. I went on his payroll at about half the salary I was getting before, to cover what he called Harvest in Ohio.
Ben Shahn
So, I was offered this job to come down there but first it was suggested that I take a trip around the country in the areas in which we worked to see what it's all about, and I tell you that was a revelation to me.
Ben Shahn
Roy was just another bureaucrat to me, but I realized very soon that without Roy this thing would have died.
Ben Shahn
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