Artwork Information

  • Title:

    This Is Nazi Brutality

  • Artist:

    Shahn, Ben

  • Artist Bio:

    American (born in Lithuania), 1898–1969

  • Date:


  • Medium:

    Color photo-offset

  • Dimensions:

    37 1/2 x 28 3/8 inches

  • Credit Line:

    Wichita Art Museum, Gift of Ralph and Novelene Ross

  • Object Number:


  • Display:

    Not Currently on Display

About the Artwork

Shahn immigrated to America with his parents in 1906. His first artistic training was as an apprentice in a lithography shop in New York, and throughout his career lithography remained one of his principal working media. Shahn’s first one-artist show was at Edith Halpert’s Downtown Gallery (New York) in 1930. The Gallery was the source of many of the works in the Murdock Collection, including the two paintings by Shahn. Elizabeth Navas purchased Labyrinth Detail No. 1, for the Wichita Art Museum from the Downtown Gallery in 1952 and The Blind Botanist in 1955.

Shahn began designing posters for the U.S. government as a Resettlement Administration artist. We French Workers Warn You was his first war poster. This is Nazi Brutality was his next poster. Shahn strove to convey, as forcefully as possible, the horror of Nazi Germany’s extermination of the Czechoslovakian village of Lidice on June 11, 1942. To do so, he represented a hooded and chained man at the juncture of two brick walls. Across him is superimposed the official Radio Berlin ticker-tape announcement of the event. The cold directness of the statement heightens the sense of horror through its contrast with the trauma of the trapped figure. So vividly did Shahn achieve his goal of representing base brutality that distribution of the poster was blocked by a civilian moral expert on the grounds that the poster would be too disturbing.