The Art of Symeon Shimin

Edited and curated by Tonia Shimin

Publisher: Mercury Press International Pages: 156 Price: (hardcover) $40 ISBN: 9780999034224 Reviewed: July, 2022 Author Website: Visit »

This lovingly produced hardcover book collects the artwork of the eponymous painter, illustrator, and writer, along with essays about the artist and his work.

Symeon Shimin, a Russian Jew who moved to America in 1912 at age ten, had a long, successful career in a variety of art-related fields. Along with creating a prominent painting for the Public Works Art Project, he won awards for illustrating children’s books and created the original poster for the film Gone with the Wind.

Despite the variety of his work—or perhaps because of it—Shimin has never garnered the attention some insist he deserves. This book seeks to remedy that, with two essays by art journalists and a six-page autobiographical essay by Shimin himself, accompanied by photographs of the author and his work. Also included are a chronology; list of awards, exhibitions, and collections, and other features that provide invaluable context for understanding Shimin’s career and motivations.

Ultimately, an art book stands on the quality of the art it reproduces, and this one is a treasure trove. The book’s large size (9.5 x 11.5 inches) and excellent full-color printing successfully convey memorable, affecting images; many are inaccessible to the public elsewhere, as numerous pieces, according to the art’s captions, are held in private collections.

The Art Deco style is evident in Shimin’s stunning 1929 Vanity Fair cover, but he preferred a kind of realism that fell in and out of favor during his career. His portraits, marked by a focus on the hands to reveal his subjects’ personalities and emotional states, are unique and distinctive. Shimin often portrayed the downtrodden and dedicated himself so fully to realizing his vision for his mural Contemporary Justice and the Child that he continued perfecting it for two years after it had been delivered and displayed.

Like Shimin’s art, this book is a passionate production—one that hopefully will deliver Shimin’s accomplished images to a wide audience of art lovers.

Available to buy at: