Ben Shahn


Trade Books, selection one
Trade Books, selection two
Ben Shahn at FORTUNE editorial and covers
KUBOYAMA, 1965 a selection of plates
HAGADDAH, 1965 a selection of plates
Art Directors' Award 1948/9


Interview with Ben Shahn. Conducted by Harlan Phillips
At the Artist's home in Roosevelt, New Jersey
October 3, 1965 -Archives of American Art

ARLAN PHILLIPS: Well, what isn't, I think, generally known is the lengths to which artists will go in terms of research.

BEN SHAHN: Yes, yes. You can't put it down on three by five or five by eight cards, you know.

HARLAN PHILLIPS: Part of tissue.

BEN SHAHN: No. That's right.

HARLAN PHILLIPS: That's right. And you've got to get soaked in it.

BEN SHAHN: Well, I've done books occasionally in the last few years; and I've got one I've done and every publisher wants it. I'm playing hard to get on it. I want special conditions, because I think they're all crooks except the Harvard University Press and the Museum of Modern Art. I'll show you the book. This is a thing that I ran across many years ago when I read Rilke's Notebook Malperry.


BEN SHAHN: I didn't know who Rilke was. I read it in French, and I thought he was a French writer. This was prose he had written, you know. So it made a terrific impression on me. Later on I learned who he was and so on. I read it exactly the same time....Well, here it is. You criticize it. It'll take five minutes to read. I treated it like a musical thing. This would be the title page. This is the frontispiece, and this is going to be my introduction, still unwritten. I'm going to do some work now that I'm learning to see. I'm 28 years old. I was 28 when I read this thing, so it's particularly mystical. Well, go through it and then you'll see it. I wrote it like a musical theme.




Images scanned and donated by Michael T.Ricker and all praise to him