Saturday 6 October 2012

Ashcan School - William Glackens part 1

William Glackens (1870 – 1938) was born in Philadelphia in 1870. After he completed high school (where John Sloan and Albert C. Barnes were his classmates) he became an artist-reporter for Philadelphia newspapers. He attended night classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, studying with Thomas Anshutz. Glackens shared a studio with Robert Henri; in 1895 they worked their way to Europe on a cattle boat. In Holland and Paris they studied the Dutch masters, Diego Velázquez, and Francisco Goya. On his return to New York in 1896, Glackens worked for newspapers and commenced a long career as a magazine illustrator. "McClure's Magazine" sent him to Cuba in 1898 to cover the Spanish-American War.

Glackens began exhibiting his paintings in 1901, attracting attention among critics and patrons who were turning away from the conventional standards of the academy. His subjects were café scenes, crowds on city streets, in parks, and on beaches, and people at play in outdoor settings. The influence of Pierre Auguste Renoir and other French impressionists is apparent.

In 1904 Glackens married, and two years later he travelled in France and Spain. His work was rejected by the National Academy of Design in 1907. He was one of the group of painters called "The Eight" who exhibited at the Macbeth Gallery in 1908. This show marked the end of the ascendancy of academic painting in the United States. Some of the painters in this group specialized in realistic social comment; Glackens remained fundamentally a romantic, his work reflecting a healthy and joyous view of life.

Glackens was influential in helping Albert C. Barnes form his great collection of modern art; the two travelled to Europe in 1912, returning with canvases by Édouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Vincent Van Gogh, Henri Matisse, and Renoir. Glackens was one of the organizers of the famous Armory Show of 1913, and he served as chairman of the committee that selected the American entries. Three of his own paintings were shown. He was one of the organisers of the Society of Independent Artists in 1916, which presented exhibitions without juries or prizes.

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s Glackens's work received wide recognition. The late paintings include imposing nudes, flower pieces, and portraits of members of his family. Basically impressionistic but with a strong sense of structure, these paintings combine sumptuous color, spontaneity of handling, and an increasingly architectural sense of compositional organization in a decidedly contemporary manner. His illustrations, particularly those involving animated crowds of people, exhibit brilliant and expressive draftsmanship, as do a smaller series of etchings of urban subjects. Glackens died suddenly in May 1938.

This is part 1 of a 5-part post on the works of William Glackens:

1893 Philadelphia Landscape 
oil on canvas 45.1 x 61 cm

c1893-95 Autumn Landscape 
oil on canvas 63.5 x 76.2 cm

1894 Lippincott's Poster 
lithograph 44.5 x 31.8 cm

c1894 Girl with White Shawl Collar 
oil on canvas 81.3 x 64.8 cm

1895 Figures in a Park, Paris 
64 x 81 cm

1895 La Villette 
oil on canvas 63.5 x 76.2 cm

1895-6 The Country Fair 
oil on canvas 66 x 82 cm

1895-96 On the Quai 
oil on canvas 60.6 x 81.3 cm

1895-96 Quatorze Juillet 
oil on canvas 64.1 x 76.8 cm

c1895 Bal Bullier 
oil on canvas 60.6 x 81.3 cm

c1895 Factory Scene 
oil on canvas 45.7 x 61 cm

c1895 Outdoor Theater, Paris 
oil on canvas 65.4 x 80.6 cm

c1895 Sailboats, Luxembourg Gardens 
65.4 x 81.3 cm

c1895 Sailing Boats, Paris 
oil on canvas 65.4 x 81.3 cm

c1896 In the Luxembourg 
oil on canvas 40.6 x 48.3 cm

1897 Girl in a Black Cape 
oil on canvas 81.3 x 64.8 cm

1897 Outside the Guttenberg Race Track 
oil on canvas 64.8 x 81.3 cm

1898 El Pozo, Spanish American War 
pen and ink wash on paper

1898 Loading Horses at Port Tampa, Spanish American War 
pen and ink wash on paper

1898 The Night after San Juan 
watercolour, pen and ink on paper 40.6 x 33 cm

1898 Fruit Stand, Coney Island 
oil on canvas 64.8 x 78.7 cm

1900 A Young Doctor, Especially during the Growth of His First Beard, is Invariably a Music Lover 
gouache on paper 21.6 x 29.2 cm

c1900 Shop Girls 
pastel and watercolour on illustration board 34.6 x 36.5 cm

c1901 Hammerstein's Roof Garden 
oil on canvas 76.2 x 63.5 cm

1902 Dancer in Pink Dress 
oil on canvas 102.8 x 61 cm

1902 East River from Brooklyn 
oil on canvas 63.8 x 76.2 cm

c1902-04 Battery Park 
oil on canvas 66 x 81.3 cm

c1902 Park on the River 
oil on canvas 65.7 x 81.3 cm

1903 Cap Noir, Saint Pierre 
oil on canvas 63.5 x 76.2 cm

1903 Graft 
pastel on paper 25.4 x 20.3 cm

1903 He piles himself on Gothecore's back then he crooks his right arm about Gothecore's neck-the regular garotte hug
pen, brush and ink 28.6 x 27.2 cm

1903 Portrait of Charles FitzGerald 
oil on canvas 190.5 x 101.6 cm

1903 Seated Actress with Mirror 
oil on canvas

1903 Theatre Scene 
oil on canvas 32.4 x 39.4 cm

c1903-04 A Headache in Every Glass 
charcoal and gouache on paper 33.7 x 49.5 cm

c1903 The Ermine Muff 
oil on canvas 36.2 x 44.13 cm

before 1904 Here is our music, and I imagine it will be First-Class 
etching 9.8 x 14 cm

before 1904 Monsieur and Madame Mollet 
etching 13.3 x 10.2 cm

Thursday 4 October 2012

Ashcan School - Introduction

Ashcan School artists and friends at John French Sloan's Philadelphia Studio in 1898

I first discovered paintings by artists of the New York “Ashcan School” soon after leaving art school in the late 60’s and living for a while in New York, and have been a fan of the work ever since.

I thought I’d take a fairly comprehensive look at the work of the Ashcan artists on this blog, but my research has so far run to about forty postings, which for many could become a little tedious for anyone that doesn't share my enthusiasm for the work, so I am going to make it an intermittent theme, starting here with a small overview written by H. Barbara Weinberg from the Department of American Paintings and Sculpture, The Metropolitan Museum of Art:

“About 1900, a group of Realist artists set themselves apart from and challenged the American Impressionists and academics. The most extensively trained member of this group was Robert Henri (1865–1929), who had studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from 1886 to 1888 under Thomas Anshutz (1851–1912). Anshutz had himself studied at the Pennsylvania Academy from 1876 to 1882 with Thomas Eakins, who had defied Victorian decorum in his teaching principles and in his boldly realistic paintings. Eakins would become the lodestar to Henri and his associates. After spending the years from 1888 to 1891 working at the Académie Julian in Paris, Henri taught at the School of Design for Women in Philadelphia and gave private art classes in and around that city and, during return visits to France, in and around Paris.

 Robert Henri by John Sloan 1902

Robert Henri - 1902 Snow in New York 
oil on canvas 81 x 66 cm

Beginning in 1892, Henri also became the mentor to four Philadelphia illustrators - William Glackens (1870–1938), George Luks (1866–1933), Everett Shinn (1876–1953), and John Sloan (1871–1951)—who worked together at several local newspapers and gathered to study, share studios, and travel. Between late 1896 and 1904, they all moved to New York, where Henri himself settled in 1900.

William Glackens by Robert Henri 1904 
oil on canvas 198.1 x 96.5 cm 

William Glackens - 1935 The Soda Fountain 
oil on canvas 121.9 x 91.4 cm

George Luks by Robert Henri 1904 
oil on canvas 194 x 97 cm

George Luks - c1923 Noontime, St. Botolph Street, Boston 
oil on canvas 76.8 x 64.1 cm

Everett Shinn Self-Portrait 1901

1930 Everett Shinn - Acrobat Falling 
oil on canvas 91.7 x 66.5 cm

John Sloan Self-Portrait c1917-22 
oil on canvas

John Sloan - 1907 Hairdresser's Window 
oil on canvas 81 x 66 cm

Henri and his former-Philadelphia associates comprised the first generation of what came to be known as the Ashcan School. A second generation consisted of Henri's New York students, of whom George Bellows (1882–1925) was the most devoted. 

George Bellows by Robert Henri 1911 
oil on canvas 81 x 66 cm

George Bellows - 1910 A Morning Snow, Hudson River 
oil on canvas 114.6 x 160.66 cm

The term Ashcan School was suggested by a drawing by Bellows captioned "Disappointments of the Ash Can", which appeared in the Philadelphia Record in April 1915; was invoked by cartoonist Art Young in a disparaging critique that appeared in the New York Sun in April 1916; and was given curatorial currency by Holger Cahill and Alfred H. Barr Jr. in a 1934 exhibition at New York's Museum of Modern Art.

Disappointments of the Ash Can "Dey woims in it" 1882

Although the Ashcan artists were not an organised "school" and espoused somewhat varied styles and subjects, they were all urban Realists who supported Henri's credo—"art for life's sake," rather than "art for art's sake." They also presented their works in several important early twentieth-century New York exhibitions, including a group show at the National Arts Club in 1904; the landmark show of The Eight at Macbeth Galleries in February 1908, which included the five senior Ashcan School painters along with Ernest Lawson (1873–1939), Maurice Prendergast (1858–1924), and Arthur B. Davies (1862–1928); the Exhibition of Independent Artists in 1910; and the Armory Show - an immense display dominated by modern European art - in 1913.

Ernest Lawson by William Glackens 1910 
oil on canvas 76.2 x 63.5 cm

Ernest Lawson - 1913 Spring Night, Harlem River 
oil on canvas 64 x 77 cm

Maurice Prendergast

Maurice Prendergast - c1907-10 East Boston Ferry 
oil on panel 36.8 x 32.4 cm

Arthur B. Davies

Arthur B. Davies - 1915 The Dawning 
oil on canvas 275.3 x 275 cm

In their paintings as in their illustrations, etchings, and lithographs, Henri and his fellow Ashcan artists concentrated on portraying New York's vitality and recording its seamy side, keeping a keen eye on current events and their era's social and political rhetoric. Stylistically, they depended upon the dark palette and gestural brushwork of Diego Velázquez, Frans Hals, Francisco de Goya, Honoré Daumier, and recent Realists such as Wilhelm Leibl, Édouard Manet, and Edgar Degas. They preferred broad, calligraphic forms, which they could render "on the run" or from memory, thereby enlisting skills that most of them had cultivated as newspaper illustrators. Although the Ashcan artists advocated immersion in modern actualities, they were neither social critics nor reformers and they did not paint radical propaganda. 
While they identified with the vitality of the lower classes and resolved to register the dismal aspects of urban existence, they themselves led pleasant middle-class lives, enjoying New York's restaurants and bars, its theatre and vaudeville, and its popular nearby resorts such as Coney Island. Because they avoided civil unease, class tensions, and the grit of the streets, their works are never as direct or disturbing as those of their European counterparts or of the reformist images of American photographers such as Jacob Riis.

Jacob Riis - 1888 Bandit's Roost

The Ashcan artists selectively documented an unsettling, transitional time in American culture that was marked by confidence and doubt, excitement and trepidation. Ignoring or registering only gently harsh new realities such as the problems of immigration and urban poverty, they shone a positive light on their era. Along with the American Impressionists, the Ashcan artists defined the avant-garde in the United States until the 1913 Armory Show introduced to the American public the works of true modernists Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, and others. Henri and most of his Ashcan colleagues continued to paint—even into the 1940s, in the case of Sloan and Shinn. Although their creativity waned and their pioneering character faded, they infused some of their late canvases with their earlier vigor.”
H. Barbara Weinberg, Department of American Paintings and Sculpture, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The first Ashcan School post will feature the work of William Glackens ( next Post ).