LAMBERTVILLE, N.J. – Ben Shahn was one of the most popular artists of the 1940s and 1950s. His graphic brilliance, his visual and emotional realism, and his social conscience attracted an international audience. On Nov. 14, Rago’s will auction property from the home and studio of Ben Shahn and his wife Bernarda in a 161-lot sale commencing at 12 noon Eastern Time. LiveAuctioneers.com will provide the Internet live bidding.
This summer, the children of Bernarda and Ben Shahn chose Rago’s to auction their parents’ personal collection of fine art, furniture, decorative art, Asian and ancient/ethnographic artifacts from their home and its adjacent studio.
Highlights include original works of art by Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Alfred Maurer, Robert Rauschenberg, Ben Shahn and Rufino Tamayo. Multiples by Jacob Lawrence, Louis Lozowick, Shahn and many Roosevelt, New Jersey artists. Additionally, there are photographs by Shahn, plus mid-century modern furniture by Nakshima and Finn Juhl/Niels Vodder. Japanese, Roman, Sabaean and Burmese art and artifacts will be auctioned, as well.
“Much of the art in this auction came to the Shahns directly from artists who were their friends or students,” said Rago partner Miriam Tucker. “Many are personally inscribed. So it is at once a very intimate collection and a very public record of the connections among leading artists of mid-century America”
More than Rothko, more than Pollack, Ben Shahn dominated the public consciousness in mid-20th century. Further, he achieved enormous institutional success. He was given his first retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1947, an exhibition followed by many more around the world throughout his life. He was selected as one of the “World’s Ten Best Artists” by Look magazine in 1948. He represented the United States at the Venice Biennale in 1954, along with Willem de Kooning. Today, his work is in the collections of more than 60 leading museums in the U.S. alone, as well as in many private collections.
Ben Shahn and his wife, artist Bernarda Bryson Shahn, lived in historic Roosevelt, New Jersey, just east of Princeton. A politically progressive, cooperative community, Roosevelt was founded in 1936 with federal funding. After Shahn’s death on March 14, 1969, Bernarda Shahn continued to live in their home for 35 years.
The Shahn’s Bauhaus home will come to market shortly. The home incorporates two additions – designed and built by George Nakashima in 1960 and 1965 – that include a free-edge bench and many other built-ins. Among its many visitors were Albert Einstein, Dorothea Lange, Alfred Barr, Eleanor Roosevelt and Alexander Calder.
For additional information on any item in the auction (or to inquire about the Shahn residence), call Miriam Tucker at 609-397-9374 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
View the fully illustrated catalog and sign up to bid absentee or live via the Internet at www.LiveAuctioneers.com.
ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE