Ben Shahn made the town of Roosevelt. That is, it was called Jersey Homesteads until he created his famous mural on the public school during FDR’s Works Progress Administration. Shahn became a legend, and soon other artists followed him and settled in the town’s early Louis Kahn-designed one-story houses.
The Princeton Public Library will screen a documentary about New Jersey artist Ben Shahn Aug. 25 at 7 p.m. “Ben Shahn: Passion for Justice” examines the social realist artist, who came to prominence in the 1930s with his painting “The Passion of Sacco & Vanzetti.”
Shahn was the most popular artist of his age. His work appeared on the cover of Time Magazine as well as in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. After his painting about Sacco and Vanzetti, the Italian anarchists who many believed were framed for murder, he went on to paint murals and take photographs for the government during the New Deal. He also became a successful painter and commercial artist.
Shahn is seen in the documentary in rare television and radio interviews recorded before his death in 1969. Interviews with his widow, Bernarda Bryson Shahn, an artist in her own right, are also included. The show was filmed over a period of three years coinciding with the 100th anniversary of Shahn’s birth.