Art Students League of New York

Last updated
The American Fine Arts Society Building on West 57th Street Art Students League 215 West 57th Street.jpg
The American Fine Arts Society Building on West 57th Street

The Art Students League of New York is an art school at 215 West 57th Street in Manhattan, New York City, New York. The League has historically been known for its broad appeal to both amateurs and professional artists.

Contents

Although artists may study full-time, there have never been any degree programs or grades, and this informal attitude pervades the culture of the school. From the 19th century to the present, the League has counted among its attendees and instructors many historically important artists, and contributed to numerous influential schools and movements in the art world.

The League also maintains a significant permanent collection of student and faculty work, and publishes an online journal of writing on art-related topics, called LINEA. The journal's name refers to the school's motto Nulla Dies Sine Linea or "No Day Without a Line", traditionally attributed to the Greek painter Apelles by the historian Pliny the Elder, who recorded that Apelles would not let a day pass without at least drawing a line to practice his art. [1]

History

Founded in 1875, the League's creation came about in response to both an anticipated gap in the program of the National Academy of Design's program of classes for that year, and to longer-term desires for more variety and flexibility in education for artists. The breakaway group of students included many women, and was originally housed in rented rooms at 16th Street and Fifth Avenue. [2] [3]

When the Academy resumed a more typical—but liberalized—program in 1877, there was some feeling that the League had served its purpose, but its students voted to continue its program, and it was incorporated the following year. Influential board members from this formative period included painter Thomas Eakins and sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Membership continued to increase, forcing the League to relocate to increasingly larger spaces.

The League participated in the founding of the American Fine Arts Society (AFAS) in 1889, together with the Society of American Artists and the Architectural League, among others. The American Fine Arts Building at 215 West 57th Street, constructed as their joint headquarters, has continued to house the League since 1892. [4] Designed in the French Renaissance style by one of the founders of the AFAS, architect Henry Hardenbergh (in collaboration with W.C. Hunting & J.C. Jacobsen), the building is a designated New York City Landmark [5] and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In the late 1890s and early 1900s an increasing number of women artists came to study and work at the League many of them taking on key roles. Among them were Wilhelmina Weber Furlong and her husband Thomas Furlong. The avant-garde couple served the league in executive and administrative roles and as student members throughout the American modernism movement. [6] Alice Van Vechten Brown, who would later develop some of the first art programs in American higher education, also studied with the league until prolonged family illness sent her home. [7]

The painter Edith Dimock, a student from 1895 to 1899, described her classes at the Art Students League:

In a room innocent of ventilation, the job was to draw Venus (just the head) and her colleagues. We were not allowed to hitch bodies to the heads——yet. The dead white plaster of Paris was a perfect inducer of eye-strain, and was called "The Antique." One was supposed to work from "The Antique" for two years. The advantage of "The Antique" was that all these gods and athletes were such excellent models: there never was the twitch of an iron-bound muscle. Venus never batted her hard-boiled egg eye, and the Discus-thrower never wearied. They were also cheap models and did not have to be paid union rates. [8]

In his official biography, My Adventures as an Illustrator, Norman Rockwell recounts his time studying at the school as a young man, providing insight into its operation in the early 1900s.

The League's popularity persisted into the 1920s and 1930s under the hand of instructors like painter Thomas Hart Benton, who counted among his students there the young Jackson Pollock and other avant-garde artists who would rise to prominence in the 1940s.

Between 1942 and 1943, many of the League's students joined the armed forces to fight in World War II, and the League's enrollment decreased from 1,000 to 400, putting it in danger of closing in mid-1943. [9] In response, five hundred artists donated $15,000, just enough to keep the League from closing. [10] In the years after World War II, the G.I. Bill played an important role in the continuing history of the League by enabling returning veterans to attend classes. [11] The League continued to be a formative influence on innovative artists, being an early stop in the careers of Abstract expressionists, Pop Artists and scores of others including Lee Bontecou, Helen Frankenthaler, Al Held, Eva Hesse, Roy Lichtenstein, Donald Judd, Knox Martin, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, Cy Twombly and many others vitally active in the art world.

In 1968, Lisa M. Specht was elected first female president of the League. The League's unique importance in the larger art world dwindled somewhat during the 1960s, partially because of higher academia's emergence as an important presence in contemporary art education, and partially due to a shift in the art world towards minimalism, photography, conceptual art, and a more impersonal and indirect approach to art making.

As of 2010, the League continues to attract a wide variety of young artists; and the focus on art made by hand, both figurative and abstract, remains strong; its continued significance has largely been in the continuation of its original mission – to give access to art classes and studio access to all comers, regardless of their means or technical background. [12] [13]

Other facilities

From 1906 until 1922, and again after the end of World War II from 1947 until 1979, the League operated a summer school of painting at Woodstock, New York. In 1995, the League's facilities expanded to include the Vytlacil campus in Sparkill, New York, named after and based upon a gift of the property and studio of former instructor Vaclav Vytlacil. [14]

Notable instructors and lecturers

Since its inception, the Art Students League has employed notable professional artists as instructors and lecturers. Most engagements have been for a year or two, and some, like those of sculptor George Grey Barnard, were quite brief.

Others have taught for decades, notably: Frank DuMond and George Bridgman, who taught anatomy for artists and life drawing classes for some 45 years, reportedly to 70,000 students. Bridgman's successor was Robert Beverly Hale. Other longtime instructors included the painters Frank Mason (DuMond's successor, over 50 years), Kenneth Hayes Miller (40 years) from 1911 until 1951, sculptor Nathaniel Kaz (50 years), Peter Golfinopoulos (over 40 years), Knox Martin (over 45 years), Martha Bloom (30 years) and the sculptors William Zorach (30 years), and Jose De Creeft, Will Barnet (50 years) from the 1930s to the 1990s, and Bruce Dorfman (over 50 years).

Other well-known artists who have served as instructors include:

Notable alumni

The list of Art Students League of New York alumni includes: [20] [18] [19]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Visual art of the United States</span>

Visual art of the United States or American art is visual art made in the United States or by U.S. artists. Before colonization there were many flourishing traditions of Native American art, and where the Spanish colonized Spanish Colonial architecture and the accompanying styles in other media were quickly in place. Early colonial art on the East Coast initially relied on artists from Europe, with John White the earliest example. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, artists primarily painted portraits, and some landscapes in a style based mainly on English painting. Furniture-makers imitating English styles and similar craftsmen were also established in the major cities, but in the English colonies, locally made pottery remained resolutely utilitarian until the 19th century, with fancy products imported.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Max Weber (artist)</span> Jewish-American painter

Max Weber was a Jewish-American painter and one of the first American Cubist painters who, in later life, turned to more figurative Jewish themes in his art. He is best known today for Chinese Restaurant (1915), in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, "the finest canvas of his Cubist phase," in the words of art historian Avis Berman.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">National Academy of Design</span> Professional honorary organization with a school and museum

The National Academy of Design is an honorary association of American artists, founded in New York City in 1825 by Samuel Morse, Asher Durand, Thomas Cole, Martin E. Thompson, Charles Cushing Wright, Ithiel Town, and others "to promote the fine arts in America through instruction and exhibition." Membership is limited to 450 American artists and architects, who are elected by their peers on the basis of recognized excellence.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">William Merritt Chase</span> American painter (1849–1916)

William Merritt Chase was an American painter, known as an exponent of Impressionism and as a teacher. He is also responsible for establishing the Chase School, which later would become Parsons School of Design.

Frank Joseph Reilly A.N.A. (1906–1967) was an American painter, illustrator, muralist, and teacher. He taught drawing and painting at the Grand Central School of Art, and illustration at Pratt Institute and Moore College of Art. However, he is best known for his twenty-eight years of instructing at the Art Students League of New York and establishing the Frank J. Reilly School of Art in the early 1960s, where he taught until his death in 1967.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Art Academy of Cincinnati</span> Private college

The Art Academy of Cincinnati is a private college of art and design in Cincinnati, Ohio, accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. It was founded as the McMicken School of Design in 1869, and was a department of the University of Cincinnati, and later in 1887, became the Art Academy of Cincinnati, the museum school of the Cincinnati Art Museum.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John D. Graham</span> American painter

John D. Graham was a Ukrainian–born American modernist and figurative painter, art collector, and a mentor of modernist artists in New York City.

Kimon Nicolaїdes (1891–1938) was an American art teacher, author and artist. During World War I, he served in the U.S. Army in France as a camouflage artist. He was of Greek descent.

George Brant Bridgman was a Canadian-American painter, writer, and teacher in the fields of anatomy and figure drawing. Bridgman taught anatomy for artists at the Art Students League of New York for some 45 years.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Frank DuMond</span> American painter

Frank Vincent DuMond was one of the most influential teacher-painters in 20th-century America. He was an illustrator and American Impressionist painter of portraits and landscapes, and a prominent teacher who instructed thousands of art students throughout a career spanning over fifty years.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Robert Beverly Hale</span>

Robert Beverly Hale was an artist, curator of American paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and instructor of artistic anatomy at the Art Students League of New York and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art. He was also the author of the well-known book Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters, as well as the translator of the classic anatomy text Artistic Anatomy by Dr. Paul Richer.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Knox Martin</span> American painter, sculptor, and muralist (1923–2022)

Knox Martin was an American painter, sculptor, and muralist.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Frank Tolles Chamberlin</span> American painter

Frank Tolles Chamberlin was an American painter, muralist, sculptor, and art teacher.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Allen Tucker</span> American painter

Allen Tucker (1866–1939) was an American artist.

Nathaniel Kaz was an American sculptor who was born in New York City. His parents were musicians and moved to Detroit when Kaz was young. It was in Detroit when he began his art studies with Samuel Cashwan. After moving to New York, Kaz continued his studies at the Art Students League where he was trained by George Bridgman and William Zorach. In 1988 he was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate member and became a full Academician in 1991. His son Eric Kaz is a musician and songwriter.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wilhelmina Weber Furlong</span> German American artist and teacher (1878–1962)

Wilhelmina Weber Furlong (1878–1962) was a German American artist and teacher.

Thomas (Tomas) Furlong (1886–1952) was an American artist and teacher.

Golden Heart Farm is a private residence in the hamlet of Bolton Landing, New York, in the United States. It served as the art colony of Thomas and Weber Furlong from 1921 to 1962. Artists from Manhattan came to the art colony to study with Wilhelmina Weber Furlong of the Art Students League of New York

Vaclav Vytlacil was an American artist and art instructor, and was among the earliest and most influential advocates of Hans Hofmann's teachings in the United States.

References

  1. "LINEA". Asllinea.org. Retrieved 2013-07-23.
  2. Cotter, Holland (2005-09-09). "CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK - A School's Colorful Patina". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-07-23.
  3. "Art Students League". The Art Story.
  4. Christopher Gray (2003-10-05). "Streetscapes/Art Students League at 215 West 57th Street; An 1892 Limestone-Fronted Building That Endures". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-07-23.
  5. "The American Fine Arts Society" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. December 10, 1968. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  6. Clint Weber Sr. (19 July 2012). The Treasured Collection of Golden Heart Farm: A Biography of Wilhelmina Weber Furlong. Weber Furlong Collection. In the foreword by Professor Emeritus James K. Kettlewell: Harvard, Skidmore College, Curator The Hyde Collection. ISBN   978-0-9851601-0-4 . Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  7. Brent Wilson; Harlan Hoffa; Pennsylvania State University. School of Visual Arts; National Art Education Association (1987). The history of art education: proceedings from the Penn State Conference. National Art Education Association.
  8. Marian Wardle. American Women Modernists: The Legacy of Robert Henri, 1910-1945 . Rutgers University Press; 2005. ISBN   978-0-8135-3684-2. p. 105.
  9. "Art Students' League Lacks Funds, May End: Nation's Oldest Independent Art School Lost 600 Pupils to Armed Forces" . New York Herald Tribune. 1942-02-09. p. 17. Retrieved 2020-12-01 via ProQuest.
  10. "Art Students League Saved by Contributions: Artists Donate 15,000 to Avert Closing in September" . New York Herald Tribune. 1942-06-25. p. 17. Retrieved 2020-12-01 via ProQuest.
  11. "Staying Power". July 9, 2015.
  12. Hoory, Leeron (July 4, 2016). "The Improbable History Of NYC's Revolutionary Art School, The Art Students League". Gothamist.
  13. "History". The Art Students League. Retrieved 2013-07-23.
  14. "Residency". Theartstudentsleague.org. Archived from the original on 2010-09-13. Retrieved 2013-07-23.
  15. "Instructors- The Art Students League". Archived from the original on 2010-11-14.
  16. "Dionisio Cimarelli".
  17. "DOROTHY GAY JUERGENS". Larchmont Gazette. 2007. Retrieved 4 September 2020.
  18. 1 2 Prominent former members of the Art Students League, Art Students League website. Retrieved online, December 26, 2011
  19. 1 2 "Instructors and Lecturers - Past & Present". The Art Students League. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2013-07-23.
  20. "Prominent Former Students of The Art Students League of New York".
  21. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Oral history interview with Harry N. Abrams, 1972 March 14. [transcript 13 pp.] [Accessed Sept. 30, 2020]
  22. Glickman, Anne S. Joan Kahn; April 13, 1914–1994. Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved February 14, 2022.
  23. Slade prints of the 1950s : Richard Hamilton, Stanley Jones and Bartolomeu dos Santos. London: University College London. 2005. p. 55. ISBN   1-904800-06-8.
  24. Sisario, Ben (2005-04-15). "Arts > Art & Design > Philip Pavia, 94, an Avant-Garde Sculptor, Is Dead". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-07-23.
  25. "The Guggenheim Museums and Foundation". The Guggenheim Museums and Foundation.
  26. Montepagani, Julia (Winter 2011–2012). "Life After the League". Lines from the League. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: date format (link)

Further reading