Art: Mirrors & Messages

One of the nation's most admired artists last week showed what he had accomplished in his last 25 years of painting. The retrospective exhibition at Manhattan's Downtown Gallery proved that in the past quarter century the art of burly Ben Shahn has mellowed and broadened with the man. The bristling dark mustache of his fiery youth has faded to white, and now it screens more smiles than scowls. At 56, after many storms, Shahn seems to have entered a calm sea.

Shahn was raised in a Brooklyn slum, where the local toughs forced him...

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