Ben Shahn, one of America's foremost painters, will deliver the first of the 1956-57 Charles Eliot Norton Lectures tonight at 8:30 in New Lecture Hall. Three of the series of talks, entitled "Idea and Image," will be given this fall, with three more scheduled for the spring.
In his first talk, Shahn will speak on "Artists in Colleges." He will try to defined the place of creation and artists in an academic community from the viewpoint of a creative artist rather than a teacher or scholar.
The second lecture, Nov. 20, will be concerned with the "Biography of a Painting." Shahn hopes that by explaining the process of creation of one of his paintings, he may be able to clear up some problems of artistic criticism.
In his last talk of the fall, "Shape of Content," the artist will plead the case for communication in art, as against purely formal concern.
Shahn Born in Russia
When first approached, Shahn had misgivings about fulfilling the lectureship requirement that he live in Cambridge for the academic year. The Fogg Museum, however, has arranged for a studio. Shahn said yesterday that he is painting with less distraction than at home in New Jersey.
Born in Russia, Shahn emigrated to this country when he was eight. He grew up in Brooklyn, which provided a background for his painting and nurtured his social concern. During his varied career he has worked as a lithographer's apprentice, an assistant to Diego Rivera, a photographer for the government, a "commercial" artist, a union propagandist, and just as a simple artist concerned with people and the changing human situation.
Last year's Charles Eliot Norton lecturer was Edwin Muir, the Scottish poet and critic. His general topic was "The Estate of Poetry." In the preceding years the lectureship was held by T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost and Igor Stravinsky.
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