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Ben Shahn: If Not Now, When?

Ben Shahn: If Not Now, When?

April 9, 2017 to August 27, 2017
Past Exhibition

Lithuanian-born American artist Ben Shahn (1898-1969) was a committed activist and humanist. Using social realism to protest political attitudes of the time, his work reveals a passionate search for social justice and an engagement with questions about his spiritual and ethnic identity. He explored polemic themes of modern urban life, organized labor, immigration, and injustice.

Ben Shahn: If Not Now, When? includes one of the last projects on which Shahn worked before his death, a series of 24 lithographs illustrating a passage from the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke’s The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (1910).

All works in this exhibit are from the Spertus collection.

An art talk on April 23, 2017 led by Dr. Susan Chevlowe, organizer of the Jewish Museum, New York's 1998 exhibit, Ben Shahn, Common Man, Mythic Vision, about transformative and relevant power of Ben Shahn’s art. 

Dr. Susan Chevlowe is Chief Curator and Director of the Derfner Judaica Museum + The Art Collection at New York’s Hebrew Home at Riverdale. She has worked as a curator at The Jewish Museum, New York, and taught in the Jewish Art and Visual Culture program at New York’s Jewish Theological Seminary.

Main Image

Ben Shahn, Many Things, from the portfolio For the Sake of a Single Verse, 1968
Lithograph, 22 1/2 x 17 11/16 inches
Spertus Institute Collection
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Herbert A. Bernhard

Exhibition Hours

Sunday 10 am- 5 pm
Monday-Wednesday 9 am- 5pm
Thursday 9 am- 6 pm
Friday 9 am- 3 pm

Spertus Institute is closed on Jewish and secular holidays.


Exhibitions at Spertus Institute are made possible in part through the generous support of the Harry and Sadie Lasky and Charles & M.R. Shapiro Foundations.

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