[Medicine Show, New York]

Ben Shahn American, born Lithuania

Not on view

Shahn surreptitiously photographed street life in the 1930s using a 35mm Leica camera outfitted with a special right-angle view-finder that allowed him to capture his subjects unaware. Weaving in and out of crowds and taking advantage of his height and bearlike physique, he fashioned graphically innovative and often surreal photographs that defied the prevailing rules of pictorial composition.
This view of a snake-oil salesman preaching to the crowds from a temporary pulpit set up at Forty-second Street and Eighth Avenue, illustrates Shahn's instinctive grasp of the possibilities of the hand-held camera in describing the theater of the street and recording the subtleties of a momentary gesture or action.

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