Rest In Peace Bernarda Shahn

“Stranded Mines.” Bernarda Bryson Shahn. Lithograph, circa 1930s.

Bernarda Bryson Shahn, renowned artist and illustrator and the wife of the famous artist Ben Shahn, has died at the age of 101. She passed away at her artist colony home in Roosevelt New Jersey where she had lived since 1939. Bernarda worked in all mediums, but was perhaps best known for her lithographs. For President Roosevelt’s depression era Resettlement Administration, she created a beautiful suite of lithographs, watercolors, and drawings titled The Vanishing American Frontier (one example shown above).

Bernarda continued painting throughout her life and presented gallery exhibits well into her 90’s. Ben Shahn was well known for his socially conscious paintings and prints. When Bernarda met him in 1932 he was an assistant to the great Mexican Muralist Diego Rivera. From that point on Bernarda and Ben became lifelong companions, marrying in 1969 just before Ben’s death. Their art had a great impact upon me, and their vision helped me to formulate my own ideas concerning a new social realism.

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