Ben A. Stahl

Ben A. Stahl "I want my paintings to excite the senses. I was never one for fine detail. I always try to get to the guts of a painting – to line and form. To me, art is a search for vital arrangements of line and form that trigger an emotional response."

Stahl and his wife, Ella, first moved to Sarasota, Florida from Connecticut in 1953. Stahl was one of the best-known members of Sarasota's colony of artists in the 1950's.

For 30 years, Stahl's work and the work of illustrator Norman Rockwell were featured weekly in The Saturday Evening Post and other national magazines. Along with Rockwell's, Stahl's illustrations were among the Post's best known features. "We are but illustrators, but you among the masters, and I am filled with admiration" Rockwell once told his colleagues.

Article by art critic Mark Ormond in the Sarasota Pelican Press. Nov. 8, 2007

Article by art critic Marty Fugate in the Longboat Observer. Sept. 28, 2007

Article by art critic Kevin Costello in the Sarasota Herald Tribune. May 21 2006

Article by art critic Mark Ormond in the Sarasota Pelican Press. June 3 2006

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One Sunday Morning

One Sunday Morning on the Oregon Trail
Camp in The Rockies

Camp in The Rockies











Painter, author, illustrator, and lecturer, Ben Stahl (1910-1987) won a scholarship to the Art Institute of Chicago at age 12.

At 16, Stahl had work accepted for the International Watercolor Show at the Art Institute.

Stahl won more than 25 medals including the Saltus Gold Medal from the National Academy of Design, Audubon Society's Siver Medal and was inducted into the Illustrators Hall of Fame in New York.

Stahl illustrated more than 750 stories for the Saturday Evening Post and illustrated and/or wrote several books. He regularly illustrated for Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, and Esquire. He also illustrated national advertising campaigns for such corporations as John Hancock, Bell Air Cobra, International Silver, Coca Cola, Packard Motorcars, etc and won over 25 major art director awards.

In 1951, Stahl was commissioned to paint "The 14 Stations of the Cross" for a special edition Bible published in 1952 by the Catholic Press of Chicago. For this assignment Stahl spent over three months in Jerusalem making preliminary sketches and conducted extensive research before beginning the paintings. These 45"x34" oils on canvas became part of the collection of the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale.

Stahl was co-founder of the largest school in the world, the Famous Artists School, which was listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Offices were located in Westport, CT, Amsterdam, Chicago, London, Tokyo, Toronto and Washington DC. It grew to offer classes in photography, writing, cartooning, and reading. Founding and guiding faculty includes such names as: Norman Rockwell, Rod Serling, Al Capp, Rube Goldberg, Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Fletcher Martin, Bert Stern, Ben Shan, and 57 other top names.

Stahl was assigned to paint for the U.S. Air Force in Formosa, Bangkok, and the Philippines and given the rank of Brigadier. These paintings hang in the Pentagon and the Air Force Academy.

In 1958 he was commissioned by MGM Studios to create six paintings for the movie Ben Hur starring Charlton Heston (a photo in the listing by Joe Steinmtez show Stahl painting the chariot race scene for Ben Hur). Other movie commissions were for Universal Studios, the Oscar winning movie Song Without End.

In 1965 Stahl opened the Museum of the Cross in Sarasota, Florida, to house a second, much larger set of The 15 Stations of the Cross, each measuring 6 x 9 feet. In April of 1969 all 15 painting were stolen. The second largest art theft of the decade, with the value being assessed at over $1.5 million.

Also in 1965, his first book "Blackbeard's Ghost" was published by Houghton Mifflin. In 1969, Disney adapted "Blackbeard's Ghost" into a successful movie and later publishing the sequel to "Blackbeard's Ghost" that was titled, "The Secret of Red Skull".

Stahl taught at the Art Institute of Chicago, American Academy of Art, New York Art Students' League, Brooklyn's Pratt Institute, as well as numerous universities.

In 1976, Stahl was featured in the television program "Journey into Art with Ben Stahl", 26 half-hour programs consisting of lectures and painting demonstrations by the artist.

Stahl has been the subject of or illustrated numerous articles in the Saturday Evening Post, Women's Home Companion, Cosmopolitan, American Artist, North Light, Esquire, The Chicago Tribune Magazine, England's Picture Post, and Southwest Art.

Museum and Public Collections:

Metropolitan Museum of Art – New York, NY
Chicago Art Institute – Chicago, IL
Carnegie Art Institute – Pittsburgh, PA
The Pentagon – Washington, DC
Cathedral of St. John the Divine – New York, NY
Desert Caballeros Western Museum – Wickenburg, AZ
New Britain Museum of American Art – New Britain, CT
Pearce Collections Museum – Corsicana, TX
Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art – Loretto, PA
Florida State Capitol – Tallahassee, FL
US Air Force Academy – Annapolis, MD
Duke University Art Museum – Durham, NC
Atlanta Library – Atlanta, GA
Museum of Art – Fort Lauderdale, FL
Universal Studios – Los Angeles, CA
MGM Studios – Los Angeles, CA
Fine Arts Association of Sarasota – Sarasota, FL
International Collection Library at Garden City – New York
Pratt Institute – Brooklyn, NY
The Society of Illustrator's Hall of Fame – New York, NY
The Players Club – New York, NY