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Alma-Tadema and Victorian Painting
in the Pérez-Simón Collection

From 25 June to 12 October 2014 (extended closing date)



Autor:
Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema
Título:
The Roses of Heliogabalus (detail)
Fecha:
1888
Técnica:
Oil on canvas
Medidas:
132.7 x 214.4 cm

Ubicacion:
Pérez-Simón Collection, Mexico

Carmen in Spanish collections

From 7 October until 9 November 2014

Special Collaborative Exhibition. Free entry



Autor:
Pablo Picasso
Título:
Illustrations for Le Carmen des Carmen by Prosper Mérimée and Louis Aragon>
Fecha:
1964
Ubicacion:
Bancaja Collection, Valencia
© Sucesión Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid, 2014

Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection

Autor:
Ben Shahn
Título:
French Workers
Fecha:
1942
Técnica:
Tempera on cardboard
Medidas:
101.6 x 144.8 cm
Úbicacion:
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid
Numero de inventario
INV. Nr. 753 (1975.34)

More information about this work




Ben Shahn, a painter and photographer of Lithuanian origin with a heightened social awareness belonging to the left wing of the so-called American Scene realist movement, devoted most of his artistic output to expressing his political and social concerns.

French Workers, a painting characteristic of this movement, is an arresting image showing several workers raising their hands in protest. They are facing an official announcement of the decree issued by the collaborationist Government of Vichy on 4 September 1942, whereby France placed its working class at the disposal of the German war industry through the so-called “compulsory labour service.” Shahn, a Jewish artist, was ever ready to object to Hitler’s policies and, at the same time, denounce the similarities with certain behaviours in American life. It is telling that this painting should have been published as a poster by the Office of War Information (OWI), printed with the following statement: “We French workers warn you ... / defeat means slavery, starvation, death.”

The person in the centre of the foreground is accorded greater prominence and is the only figure whose facial features are shown. The rest of the motley group is an anonymous mass. The artist places the full emphasis of the scene on the workers’ raised arms in a sign of protest, in poses that recall certain works by Picasso, and on the exaggeratedly enlarged hands that denote manual work. Concern about manual work, a topical issue in America following the New Deal, spawned a proliferation of images devoted to the working class in the visual arts, perhaps with the underlying belief that art and artists could help improve their situation. Shahn himself wrote that “my credo is that, the artist, in the very business of keeping his integrity, begins to supply some of the moral stamina our country needs.”

Paloma Alarcó

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