Styles & Periods

Styles & Periods

Ashcan School

American art before World War I was dominated by realism, and no group of artists better evolved this tradition than the Ashcan School. The loosely affiliated group was actually a collection of artists working in New York City, who fed upon and depicted the vitality of the bustling metropolis. Many of the artists painting in the style came from journalistic backgrounds, where they developed skills in making quick, loose sketches of cities imbued with energy. While not a social movement, the painters did depict the city in a literal manner that had never seen before, making headway in developing an American style of subject. Specifically, in 1908, painter Robert Henri founded The Eight. This group was loosely connected with the broad Ashcan School, and included members John Sloan, Everett Shinn, William Glackens, George Luks, Ernest Lawson, Maurice Prendergast and Arthur Davies. These artists were rejected by the National Academy of Design, and therefore mounted their own revolutionary show in New York. By denouncing the rigid constraints of academy painting, the Ashcan School, including The Eight, forged new ground in the idea of artists choosing their own subject to immortalize.


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