"The Art of Symeon Shimin" presents a striking view of the life and art of this Russian born Jewish artist. Curated and edited by his daughter, the book includes essays, more than 100 plates and archival photographs and an autobiography. With paintings held in collections including the Chrysler Museum of Art, this is the first complete collection of Shimin's work that dramatically showcases art of rare beauty and raw expression.
Throughout his life,1902-1984, Shimin's deep commitment towards justice and belief in the beauty of the human condition were paramount to the way he lived and painted. An award winning illustrator of more than 50 children’s books he was a leading artist for Hollywood films, painting the original "Gone With the Wind poster." Most notably he was acclaimed for his masterpiece, the mural Contemporary Justice and the Child, commissioned in 1936-1940 for the Department of Justice Building, Washington, DC.
THE ART OF SYMEON SHIMIN
Ed. byTonia Shimin
Mercury Press International (156 pp.) $40.00 hardcover
ISBN: 978-0-9990342-2-4 November 1, 2019
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.
We are pleased and honored to announce that "The Art of Symeon Shimin" has received the following awards:
★WINNER! 2020 Independent Press Award, Distinguished Favorite in Fine Arts ★
★WINNER! 2020 NYC Big Book Award★ in Arts and Entertainment