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

Ben Shahn Bartolomeo Vanzetti and Nicola Sacco 1931–32

  • Not on view

For a 1932 mural exhibition at MoMA, Ben Shahn submitted a design depicting Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, Italianborn American anarchists convicted of murder and executed in the 1920s. The trial was a political flashpoint, as their indictment was inflected by anti-Italian and anti-immigrant fervor. Shahn’s mural design was among those that provoked a debate in the press. “The subject that I chose is an aspect of modern life that stirred my feelings deeply,” Shahn wrote in his 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 Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern, March 17 – June 15, 2019.
Gouache on paper on board
10 7/8 x 14 5/8" (27.6 x 37.1 cm)
Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller
Object number
Drawings and Prints

Installation views

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