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For Release Thursday, October 30 '40


A jury of four of the leading American painters, Edward Biberman, Kindred McLeary, Franklin Watkins and Marguerite Zorach, has just completed its review of a national open anonymous competition held by the Section of Fine Arts of the Public Buildings Administration, Federal Works Agency, to select murals for the new Social Security Building in Washington, D.C. in all, the jury reviewed the word of 375 painters and reached its decisions in regard to the murals for the main corridor of the building, for the auditorium and for the lobby. In its report, submitted to Edward Bruce, Chief of the Section of Fine Arts, the jury has explained that by unanimous vote it recommends to the Commissioner of Public Buildings that the fresco murals for the main corridor shall be executed by Ben Shahn of Hightstown, New Jersey. These designs will now be submitted to the Commissioner of Fine Arts for comment and advice. 

The jury praised Mr. Shahn's work on account of "The indications that the artist drew from life, not relying entirely on his supreme knowledge of design." The jury further reported that, "there is a variety in the tempo and texture. The pattern advances and recedes, changing its beat, the crowded parts always finding relief. The color is sombre, but good, and in keeping with the meaning of the subject theme. It is well integrated in the design. There is continuity, and the mural as a whole is well bound together. The enlarged detail promises a proper execution of this work and we feel well satisfied and confident in our unanimous choice."

The theme of Mr. Shahn's mural is, in general, "The meaning of Social Security." He relates it to building, agriculture, the poor, child labor, the invalided, recreation, unemployment and other conditions to which the principles of Social Security apply. His sketches suggest the power and imagination which have made Ben Shahn a leader in the field of mural painting. Among the important works carried out by this artist are the murals in the lobby of the Bronx, New York Post Office, a commission which was awarded as the result of an earlier national open anonymous competition, held by the Section of Fine Arts.

The price to be paid, including all costs of execution and materials, is $19,980.

The jury further recommended that on account of the quality of his sketches submitted in the corridor competition, Philip Guston should be invited by the Section of Fine Arts to redesign and to submit sketches for the decoration of the auditorium.

A similar recommendation was made by the jury in the case of Seymour Fogel. Because of the quality of his sketches submitted