The Art of Symeon Shimin (Hardcover)
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Product ID : 9780999034224

The Art of Symeon Shimin (Hardcover)

Price: $40.00



We are proud to announce that The Art of Symeon Shimin has been awarded:
  • 2020 Independent Press Distinguished Favorites Award in the category of Fine Arts
  • 2020 Winner Award from the NYC Big Book Award in Arts and Entertainment
  • The 2021 Winner Book Excellence Award for Art

"This coffee-table style volume (9.6 x 0.7 x 11.7 inches) is an impressively informative presentation that clearly and effectively showcases the life and work of one of the 20th Century's most gifted artists -- and should be considered an essential and core addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university fine arts collections."-Midwest Book Review

The Art of Symeon Shimin presents a striking collection of the fine art of this exceptional Russian born Jewish artist. Curated by the artist's daughter, it is the first collection and overview of Shimin's work. Including an autobiography by the artist, essays by noted arts journalists Josef Woodard and Charles Donelan, over 100 plates and archival photographs, this book showcases art of rare beauty and raw expression.

Recognized as an award winning illustrator of more than 50 children's books, two of his own authoring, Shimin, 1902-1984, was also one of the most highly regarded artists creating posters for Hollywood films, including the original poster for Gone With the Wind and the 40 ft. canvas for Solomon and Sheba. Most notably he was acclaimed for his masterpiece, the mural Contemporary Justice and the Child, commissioned in 1936-1940, by the PWAP, Public Works Arts Project, for the Department of Justice Building, Washington, DC, where it stands today. Chaim Gross stated in 1973, "Shimin is a painter who knows the craft of drawing and painting which in his hands becomes great art." With paintings held in collections including the Chrysler Museum of Art, this is the first complete collection of his fine art.


“Symeon Shimin was a vessel for the unheard voices of his time. Those who were shunned, he highlighted; for those who were unseen, he provided a stage. He saw the common man for what he was – beautiful, exceptional, and equal.” -Lauren Kinsley, Research Editor

A loving survey of an artist’s varied career.
Editor Tonia Shimin assembles essays and images that span the rich career of her late father, the painter Symeon Shimin.
The book’s opening section is a brief autobiographical essay that Symeon Shimin wrote before his death in 1984. In it, he spends little time on the subject of painting, focusing instead on his family life. He was born in Astrakhan, Russia, in 1902 and wanted to be a musician as a child; he idolized his uncle Eli, who was a composer. In 1912, the family moved to New York City. As he pursued his art, representational drawing came to him easily, and his first studies were on paper bags from his father’s new delicatessen. The second essay, by critic Josef Woodard, provides a fine portrait of Shimin’s artistic life and takes time to appreciate the artist’s illustrations for movie posters and children’s books. But to Woodard, these finely executed projects prevented Shimin from pursuing more worthwhile works like his Contemporary Justice and the Child, “a landmark mural” in the U.S. Department of Justice building. In the final essay, arts journalist Charles Donelan fastidiously moves through Shimin’s oeuvre, presenting a notion of the artist as a “passionate observer” and “humanist” whose representational paintings were underappreciated when abstract works dominated art markets. Together, the three essays achieve an edifying balance with Shimin’s intimate reflection, Woodard’s steady survey, and Donelan’s academic appreciation. The rest of the book consists of reproductions, ably arranged to showcase Shimin's virtuosity and beautifully highlight his career-spanning fascination with the human form. The reprints of studies for Contemporary Justice are a highlight, revealing the minute strokes of brilliance that contributed to a coherent whole. A glowing reprint of Shimin’s later painting The Pack shows the artist’s knack for chaotic ensemble, as does Discussion Group (I), reprinted across two facing pages. In her acknowledgments, Tonia Shimin says that she intended the book as a “tribute to the work of my father”; it is, and it also underscores the skills of its editor.
A loving survey of an artist’s varied career. -KIRKUS REVIEWS 

From...Humanism in Painting: Remembering the Art of Symeon Shimin by Sam Ben-Meir:

"As New York's Whitney Museum exhibits the work of the great Mexican muralists - Rivera, Orozco and Siqueiros - this is a moment to revisit and reflect on the work of Russian-born artist Symeon Shimin. During his life, Shimin illustrated over 50 children's books, including two that he authored himself; his masterpiece, however - influenced in part by 'Los Tres Grandes' - was the mural painting, "Contemporary Justice and the Child" (1936), located on the third floor of the Department of Justice, where it still stands today."
"While he enjoyed a long and successful career as an illustrator and commercial artist for Hollywood films (including the original, iconic poster for Gone With the Wind), Shimin never quite received the recognition that his work truly merited. Undoubtedly, this was largely due to the fact that Shimin was fundamentally a figurative and representational painter working at a time when various forms of modernism and avant-garde art, such as abstract expressionism, were ascending and gaining influence."
"The book provides exquisite reproductions of over 70 paintings, including a detailed look at the gestation and development of "Contemporary Justice and the Child." Commissioned by the Public Works Art Project, Shimin understood that this was, as he put it, "not a slight matter" - it was the artist's "moment of truth," as Donelan observes, and he would choose his subject both "carefully and wisely." Having travelled to Mexico in the 1930s, and soaked up the Mexican Mural Renaissance, Shimin was committed to seeing his work serve the cause of social justice, not only as a condemnation of child labor, but as a meditation on racial and gender equality, the social pursuit of knowledge and science, and much else besides."
"Symeon Shimin's art was chiefly concerned with using the human form to express the inner life of the individual, and the weight of existence that each of us carries. Through his portraiture, through his careful observation and representation of the human figure, he was able to find and express the intrinsic value of the human person as such. His work is imbued with a deep and abiding sympathy for the humanity of his subjects, the need we have for each other, for understanding and being understood, with all the difficulty and riskiness that this implies. Shimin always used live models because, he said, "I believe the individual characters to be more meaningful." That unflagging devotion to the human individual, to the inherent value and dignity of the individual human being is his lasting legacy; and as long as we seek to understand and express the value and significance of human experience as such, there will be a place for artists such as Shimin."

Symeon Shimin
was born in Astrakhan, Russia, on the Caspian Sea, in 1902. His family immigrated to the United States ten years later, living in two small rooms behind their delicatessen. Already interested in drawing for a living, Shimin apprenticed himself to a commercial artist at age 16 to help support his family. He attended art classes at Cooper Union Art School at night and briefly at the studio of George Luks.  Primarily self-taught, as a young artist he studied the works of the master artists spending time in Spain, France and Mexico. Later trips to Italy proved to be inspirational for him and his work. 

In 1936 he was awarded a contract by the PWAP, Public Works Arts Project, to paint the mural “Contemporary Justice and the Child,for the Department of Justice Building, Washington, DC, which won wide acclaim. Taking four years to complete it can still be seen today. His paintings have been exhibited by the Whitney Museum in New York and many other museums throughout the United States. Shimin’s work in children's books began in 1950 and he subsequently became a greatly respected illustrator of more than 50 books for children, including two that he also authored.   Among other work early in his career, Shimin painted large-scale murals for Hollywood films, creating the original poster for “Gone with the Wind.” He died in New York in 1984. 

About Tonia Shimin
As a dancer Tonia Shimin performed in the companies of Martha Graham, Jose Limón, Pearl Lang, The Ypsilanti Greek Theater and as a soloist with Anna Sokolow's Player's Project, Mary Anthony Dance Theater and Repertory West Dance Company. She has had an extensive teaching career in the United States and abroad. Her choreographic works have appeared in the United States, the Czech Republic, Russia, Germany, Turkey, Switzerland, Greece, Italy and Mexico.  An award winning dance filmmaker, for among others the documentary Mary Anthony: A life in Modern Dance, her awards have included support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Santa Barbara Dance Alliance. Currently she is Professor Emerita of the Department of Theater Dance at the University of California, Santa Barbara and continues her creative work in the USA and abroad. Most recently she has curated, edited and with Mercury Press International published the award winning book, The Art of Symeon Shimin, on the remarkable work of her father, whose fine art is here shown in a collection for the first time.


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