The Eight and the Ashcan School

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It is not only that commercial and residential boundaries of New York changed but perceptions and public views were undergoing rapid changes. It was a favorable milieu for the formation of popular culture. New York was growing in size, its population was diversifying. Many ethnic groups mixed together contributing to creation of new forms of artist expression, reflecting changing social relationships. The early 20th century witnessed a radical change in American painting. This was not a change in attitude toward painting but in attitude toward life. It was a journalist’s revolution originating from Philadelphia. New York City with financial growth explosion, office work for women and the sweatshops for immigrants – all these conditions brought young newspaper illustrators to develop their careers as fine artists in New York getting away from the conservative, static art establishment of Philadelphia. The rapidly changing scenes of New York as it is were captured by artists who are better known as the Eight: Robert Henri, Arthur B. Davies, Maurice Prendergast, Ernest Lawson, William Glackens, Everett Shinn, John Sloan, and George Luks. These artists framed a contemporary realism that explored the drama, humor and exoticism of life in the turbulent metropolis. The Ashcan school which united the Eight and a number of other artists took roots in Philadelphia under the leadership of Henri. In Philadelphia, Henri’s rebellious nature made him a catalyst, an enthusiast ….