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Painting/Art Movements: Ashcan School

( Originally Published 1955 )



American Realist school of city genre painters of the early twentieth century; active mostly in New York. The original group, led by Robert Henri and including George B. Luks, John Sloan, William J. Glackens and Everett Shinn, was first active in Philadelphia in the 1890's. They were then known as the Philadelphia Realists, and after migrating to New York around the turn of the century were called the New York Realists. The origin of the term Ashcan, a derogatory reference to their concern with slums and squalor, and its first use, is in question, although sometimes attributed to Art Young. They dealt with colorful and intimate aspects of city life in a romantic and sentimental manner, and painted in a gray tonality based on the art of Manet. Daumier, Gavarni, Guys and Forain. In their own day this turn toward contemporary reality at a time of esthetic gentility struck many as socially radical and led to a storm of criticism. Painting in a similar vein, but not part of the original group, were Jerome Myers and Eugene Higgins. Of the younger generation influenced by the style were George W. Bellows, Rockwell Kent, Gifford Beal, Leon Kroll, Glenn O. Coleman, Guy Pene du Bois and Edward Hopper, to name only a few. The original group formed the nucleus of the Eight and was active in the Armory Show.



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