Ben Shahn, (1898 Russia- 1969 US), Liberation

Does it look like just anybody can create that? They can’t.


The work below Liberation (1945), is Ben Shahn’s celebration of the end of Fascism. It is really touching and evocative. The foreground shows children playing, symbolizing exhilaration. The background shows the rubble of buildings, devastated by the War and symbolic of all the destruction inflicted on Europe and allies. Note the airiness/ lightness of the children in contrast to the broken heavy rubble and lumbering caving in building. At the same time, these children are very thin (one could expect from rations, or as orphans), and seem to be hanging from the maypole by a thread. The maypole in the past has unknown symbolism from pagan times (originating in Germany I believe) but is associated with celebration, summer, and community.


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