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Art History: Ash Can School: (1908 - 1918)

Following the dictum "art for lifeís sake" the Ash Can school shocked audiences with their depictions of new themes that included the streets and city life. The groupís name derives from the urban garbage can image and hostile critics also named the group the "black gang." The group was begun by Robert Henri in Philadelphia around 1891, and soon gained the attention of newspaper illustrators George Luks, John Sloan, William Glackens, and Everett Shinn. Henri was an admirer of American realist painters Thomas Eakins and Thomas Anshutz.

The Ash Can School group was more revolutionary in subject matter than style. The artists strived to paint what was real about urban life, finding beauty in that truth. The group of American painters focused on common urban scenes with unpleasant and unfashionable subjects such as the working class, the streets, alleys, and bars. They created realistic and un-enhanced portraits of everyday life and common people. Ash Can School paintings have a spontaneous and loose style distinctive from the rigid techniques taught in the early twentieth century American art academies. Paint was applied thickly and rapidly, leaving evidence of brushstrokes. Ashcan painters used a dark, muted palette.

The Eight was a group comprised of the eight members of the Ashcan school. They originated in New York City in 1908, exhibiting together despite their different artistic approaches. The group was comprised of romanticist Arthur B. Dawes, impressionists Maurice Prendergast, Ernest Lawson, and William Glackens, illustrator Everett Shinn, virtuoso Robert Henri and his followers, John Sloan and George Luks. What united the men of The Eight was their opposition to strict academic exhibition procedures. They organized a revolutionary exhibition that rebelled against American modern art in that it was the first self-organized and self-selected exhibit by a group of related artists, without a jury and prizes. They also held the Armory Show in 1913, which exposed modern European art to the American public, who received it with a mix of shock and curiosity. In 1917, The Eight organized the Society of Independent Artists along with George Bellows and others.

The American Scene Painting movement of the 1920ís and 1930ís carried on the Ashcan schoolís ideology.

Artists: (biography & artworks) Related Paintings Reproductions

Henri, Robert - 1865 - 1929


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