The Ashcan School

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William Glackens


"The Eight" / "Ashcan School" / "Apostles of Ugliness"

In response to the National Academy's rejection of their work for the 1907 spring exhibition, eight painters participated in a historic exhibition at the Macbeth Gallery in New York City in February 1908.  The painter Robert Henri, who had moved to New York from Philadelphia in 1900, was the intellectual leader of this loosely constituted group called "The Eight."  Since 1905, Henri had been a member of the Academy, but in 1907 he found himself so at odds with his colleagues there that he began to organize an alternative exhibition.  Henri was joined by four Philadelphia artists, John Sloan, Everett Shinn, William Glackens, and George Luks, all illustrators who provided on-the-spot pictorial sketches for newspapers, a practice not yet replaced by the new art of photography.  As a result of this vocation, they came to painting first as draftsmen whose subject matter portrayed the transient and everyday realities of American life.  Three other artists also joined ranks--the landscape painters Ernest Lawson and Maurice Prendergast, and the Symbolist Arthur B. Davies--and the group was dubbed "The Eight" by a New York journalist.  The exhibition of The Eight was a milestone in the history of modern American painting.  Although the participating artists represented various points of view and contrasting styles, they were united by their mutual hostility to the entrenched art of the academicians with their rigid jury system, and by the conviction that artists had the right to paint subjects of their own choosing.  The show received mixed reviews.  Some criticized it for its "inappropriate" recordings of the uglier aspects of the New York scene.  Several of the exhibiting artists were to become leading members of the Ashcan School.


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George Luks
Everett Shinn
John Sloan
Maurice Prendergast
Ernest Lawson
Arthur B. Davies

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Linda M. Larson.  All rights reserved.
Revised: 29 Nov 2000 14:30:28 -0500 .