Ben Shahn. Bartolomeo Vanzetti and Nicola Sacco. 1931–32

Ben Shahn Bartolomeo Vanzetti and Nicola Sacco 1931–32

  • Not on view

The trial, conviction, and executions of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, Italian-born American anarchists, were political flash points in New York in the 1920s. Their indictment was inflected by anti-Italian and anti-immigrant fervor. For a 1932 mural exhibition at MoMA, Shahn submitted this design depicting Sacco and Vanzetti, which provoked much debate in the local press. “The subject that I chose is an aspect of modern life that stirred my feelings deeply,” the artist wrote in his own defense. “I painted it with all the sincerity and skill I possessed and, in my judgment, there is no reason in the world why a mural on this subject should not be exhibited.”

Gallery label from 2020
Medium
Gouache on paper on board
Dimensions
10 7/8 x 14 5/8" (27.6 x 37.1 cm)
Credit
Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller
Object number
144.1935
Department
Drawings and Prints

Installation views

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