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Ashcan School

ASHCAN SCHOOL

ASHCAN SCHOOL. A group of artists loosely formed a group they called "the Eight" or the Ashcan School because they could find art in the "ashcans" of dirty cities. Led by Robert Henri, the group included George Luks, William Glackens, John Sloan, Everett Shinn, Arthur B. Davies, Maurice Prendergast, and Ernest Lawson, and later it added Henri's prized student George Bellows.

Not a formal society or school, as all were fiercely independent, they shared a common look at every day life through the lens of a journalist and the soul of a poet. Many had work experience as illustrators at magazines or newspapers, which contributed to their journalistic approach. The Ashcan artists disdained the academic pretensions of the established art world, while critics, who did not want to see such vulgarity displayed in art, called the group "the Revolutionary Black Gang."

The Eight held its first exhibition in 1908 and another in 1910. The show was so popular and sensational that riot police had to be called to subdue the crowd. The true impact of the Ashcan School did not occur until three years later with the Armory Show, by some accounts the most important exhibit ever held in the United States. The Armory Show shocked the public by showcasing the outrageous styles adopted by the Eight and by European artists, including Pablo Picasso, Paul Cezanne, and Henri Matisse. Despite the critical turmoil, more than 300,000


Americans saw the Armory Show, which invented the term "modern art."

Henri and the other original members of the Ashcan movement took Winslow Homer as their spiritual guide and also looked to the great poet Walt Whitman for inspiration. Bellows used the gritty streets as his guide, including the illegal boxing clubs of the early 1900s. His Stag at Sharkey's (1909) and Both Members of This Club (1909) are possibly the most powerful paintings stemming from the group.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Braider, Donald. George Bellows and the Ashcan School of Painting. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1971.

Perlman, Bennard B. Painters of the Ashcan School: The Immortal Eight. New York: Dover, 1988.

BobBatchelor

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Ashcan school

Ashcan school Nickname given to a group of late 19th- and early 20th-century US artists, including George Bellows, Robert Henri, and Edward Hopper, who rejected academic and traditional artistic subjects for the seamier aspects of urban life (especially New York). The inspiration for the group's interest in everyday life came from four core members William Glackens, John Sloan, George Luks, and Everett Shinn, all of whom worked as artist-reporters in Philadelphia before joining Henri's circle.

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ashcan school

ashcan school: see Eight, the.

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