"The Lone Tenement" by George Bellows, 1909 (National Gallery of Art)
French impressionist artists popularized the painting of everyday urban life in the late 19th century. Composed of pleasing bits of pure color, their modern city visions were for the most part carefully edited, subjective, and quite beautiful. The Ashcan School of American artists, working primarily in New York in the late-19th and early-20th centuries, followed the impressionists’ lead, but instead realistically depicted what they saw. Their paintings didn’t glamorize or prettify, but captured the city with its gritty underbelly exposed.
Art historian Bonita Billman presents the fascinating works of George Bellows, William Glackens, Robert Henri, George Luks, Everett Shinn, and John Sloan, and explores the unvarnished truths they revealed about modern life. She also considers the painters’ intentions and methods, and how these influenced their own works and those of future generations of artists who chose the city and its people as their subjects.
World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1/2 credit*
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*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1/2 elective credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.