Ben Shahn at the Blanton is a Must See

Did another quick trip to the Blanton Museum of Art yesterday before flying out of Austin. (Peace and patience to those of you having to fly today–I seemed to get out just in time.)

I always recommend that people visit museums a little bit at a time. This is more difficult when you’re in a city that you don’t plan to return to for a long time, but it makes your time there so much more pleasant. For instance, saying you’ll scan each gallery and select one work per gallery that you’d like to look at more closely. That should do it. Shahn

The piece that WOWED me during my first visit was Ben Shahn’s From That Day On (1960). The painting is powerful, but the story behind it is incredibly moving. Read about it on the Blanton website.

I was also thrilled to see another work by Shahzia Sikander, whose exhibit I had drooled over in the galleries at the Aldrich Museum of Art a couple of years ago. (Don’t worry, I just drooled over them, not on them.) Seriously, they made me want to go home and make really small, detailed art. (See Hoods Red Rider #2 on this page if you want to know what I was drawn to. Note size of work.)

Next trip down to Texas will include a visit to ArtPace in San Antonio, where Sikander did a residency that led to a new work for the Blanton. This sounds like an amazing venture. (I also include this link to Association of Artist Communities because the ArtPace site wasn’t working for me just now.)

We should all be looking for art that wows us and figure out why. I’ve been trying to think of why the Shahn was so powerful for me. The scale is certainly large. The color is intense. But there was something about the combination that did it: intense color + imposing figure with enormous hands contrasted against the delicate lines and patterns + infant. Genius!

Image: Ben Shahn, From That Day On, 1960. Oil and tempera on canvas and board, 71 1/2 x 35 3/8 in. Collection of The Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas, Gift of Mari and James A. Michener.

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