An image of Mohatma Gandhi after an original print, circa mid 1960's, reproduced on a magazine page, and signed and inscribed in faded ballpoint pen at lower left by the well-known American Social Realist artist, BEN SHAHN (1898-1969). The work was acquired in 2010 from the estate of a relative of Alice and Theodore Himelstein of Marina del Rey, California, along with several original prints signed by Shahn. The Himelsteins, originally of New York, were personal friends of Shahn, and the 2010 sale offered a number of works related to Shahn and his second wife Bernarda Bryson. Shahn wrote at lower left (difficult to see in photos, look carefully) "to Alice, Ben Shahn". The sheet measures 13" by 10", and the print is now loosely lying in an inexpensive frame in which it was found (no glass) measuring 17" by 14 1/2". The sheet was originally crudely affixed to the backing card with glue at the corners, resulting in stresses that led to tears in upper left and right extreme corners. These could be mostly matted out. The rest of the sheet is evenly rippled due to age and the way in which this was mounted. An inexpensive way to own a print that Shahn once handled. The magazine sheet has a color advertisement for cigarettes on the reverse; I believe the sheet size might indicate that this page came from a magazine like LIFE or LOOK. Shahn was born in Lithuania and came to the United States as a child. After education at NYU and the National Academy of Design he went to Paris, meeting there many major figures of the 1920's art scene there. In 1933 Shahn assisted Diego Rivera on the famous Rockefeller Center mural. In later years, Shahn was familiar figure in the Social Realist fold, selectively accepting commissions for work that would further the humanistic causes he supported. The artist credited Walker Evans the photographer, Diego Rivera, and Jean Charlot for the influences they had on his artistic development. Shahn's paintings and signed prints sell regularly at major auctions in New York. This subtle image was difficult to photograph. Note that what appears as dark brownish vertical stains near ink signature is in fact just the way the camera dealt with shadows from the ripples.
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