Robert Earle Henri
Robert Henri, 1897
Robert Henry Cozad
June 24, 1865
|Died||July 12, 1929 64) (aged|
New York City, New York
|Education|| Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts,|
École des Beaux Arts
Robert Henri ( // ; June 24, 1865 – July 12, 1929) was an American painter and teacher. He was a leading figure of the Ashcan School of American realism and an organizer of the group known as "The Eight," a loose association of artists who protested the restrictive exhibition practices of the powerful, conservative National Academy of Design.
Robert Henri was born Robert Henry Cozad in Cincinnati, Ohio to Theresa Gatewood Cozad and John Jackson Cozad, a gambler and real estate developer.Henri was a distant cousin of the painter Mary Cassatt. In 1871, Henri's father founded the town of Cozaddale, Ohio. In 1873, the family moved west to Nebraska, where John J. Cozad founded the town of Cozad.
In October 1882, Henri's father became embroiled in a dispute with a rancher, Alfred Pearson, over the right to pasture cattle on land claimed by the family. When the dispute turned physical, Cozad shot Pearson fatally with a pistol. Cozad was eventually cleared of wrongdoing, but the mood of the town turned against him. He fled to Denver, Colorado, and the rest of the family followed shortly afterwards. In order to disassociate themselves from the scandal, family members changed their names. The father became known as Richard Henry Lee, and his sons posed as adopted children under the names Frank Southern and Robert Earl Henri (pronounced "hen rye"). In 1883, the family moved to New York City, then to Atlantic City, New Jersey, where the young artist completed his first paintings.
In 1886, Henri enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, where he studied under Thomas Anshutz, a protege of Thomas Eakins, and Thomas Hovenden.In 1888, he traveled to Paris to study at the Académie Julian, where he studied under the academic realist William-Adolphe Bouguereau, came to admire greatly the work of Francois Millet, and embraced Impressionism. "His European study had helped Henri develop rather catholic tastes in art." He was admitted into the École des Beaux Arts. He visited Brittany and Italy during this period. At the end of 1891, he returned to Philadelphia, studying under Robert Vonnoh at the Pennsylvania Academy. In 1892, he began teaching at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women. "A born teacher, Henry enjoyed immediate success at the school."
In Philadelphia, Henri began to attract a group of followers who met in his studio to discuss art and culture, including several illustrators for the Philadelphia Press who would become known as the "Philadelphia Four": William Glackens, George Luks, Everett Shinn, and John Sloan. They called themselves the Charcoal Club. Their gatherings featured life drawing, raucous socializing, and readings and discussions of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, Émile Zola, Henry David Thoreau, William Morris Hunt, and George Moore.
By 1895, Henri had come to reconsider his earlier love of Impressionism, calling it a "new academicism." He was urging his friends and proteges to create a new, more realistic art that would speak directly to their own time and experience. He believed that it was the right moment for American painters to seek out fresh, less genteel subjects in the modern American city. The paintings by Henri, Sloan, Glackens, Luks, Shinn, and others of their acquaintance that were inspired by this outlook eventually came to be called the Ashcan School of American art. They spurned academic painting and Impressionism as an art of mere surfaces. Art critic Robert Hughes declared that, "Henri wanted art to be akin to journalism. He wanted paint to be as real as mud, as the clods of horse-shit and snow, that froze on Broadway in the winter, as real a human product as sweat, carrying the unsuppressed smell of human life."Ashcan painters began to attract public attention in the same decade in which the realist fiction of Stephen Crane, Theodore Dreiser, and Frank Norris was finding its audience and the muckraking journalists were calling attention to slum conditions.
For several years, Henri divided his time between Philadelphia and Paris, where he met the Canadian artist James Wilson Morrice.Morrice introduced Henri to the practice of painting pochades on tiny wood panels that could be carried in a coat pocket along with a small kit of brushes and oil. This method facilitated the kind of spontaneous depictions of urban scenes which would come to be associated with his mature style.
In 1898, Henri married Linda Craige, a student from his private art class. The couple spent the next two years on an extended honeymoon in France, during which time Henri prepared canvases to submit to the Salon.In 1899 he exhibited "Woman in Manteau" and La Neige ("The Snow"), which was purchased by the French government for display in the Musée du Luxembourg . He taught at the Veltin School for Girls beginning in 1900 and at the New York School of Art in 1902, where his students included Joseph Stella, Edward Hopper, Rockwell Kent, George Bellows, Norman Raeben, Louis D. Fancher, and Stuart Davis. In 1905, Linda, long in poor health, died. Three years later, Henri remarried; his new wife, Marjorie Organ, was a twenty-two-year-old cartoonist for the New York Journal. (Henri's 1911 portrait of Marjorie, The Masquerade Dress, is one of his most famous paintings and hangs in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.)
In 1906, Henri was elected to the National Academy of Design, but when painters in his circle were rejected for the Academy's 1907 exhibition, he accused fellow jurors of bias and walked off the jury, resolving to organize a show of his own. He would later refer to the Academy as "a cemetery of art."
In 1908, Henri was one of the organizers of a landmark show entitled "The Eight" (after the eight painters displaying their works) at the Macbeth Galleries in New York. Besides his own works and those produced by the "Philadelphia Four" (who had followed Henri to New York by this time), three other artists who painted in a different, less realistic style—Maurice Prendergast, Ernest Lawson, and Arthur B. Davies—were included. The exhibition was intended as a protest against the exhibition policies and narrowness of taste of the National Academy of Design. The show later traveled to several cities from Newark to Chicago, prompting further discussion in the press about the revolt against academic art and the new ideas about acceptable subject matter in painting.
Henri was, by this point, at the heart of the group who argued for the depiction of urban life at its toughest and most exuberant. Conservative tastes were necessarily affronted. About Henri's Salome of 1909, critic Hughes observed: "Her long legs thrust out with strutting sexual arrogance and glint through the over-brushed back veil. It has far more oomph than hundreds of virginal, genteel muses, painted by American academics. He has given it urgency with slashing brush marks and strong tonal contrasts. He's learned from Winslow Homer, from Édouard Manet, and from the vulgarity of Frans Hals".
In 1910, with the help of John Sloan and Walt Kuhn, Henri organized the Exhibition of Independent Artists, the first nonjuried, no-prize show in the U.S., which he modeled after the Salon des Indépendants in France. Works were hung alphabetically to emphasize an egalitarian philosophy. The exhibition was very well-attended but resulted in few sales.The relationship between Henri and Sloan, both believers in Ashcan realism, was a close and productive one at this time; Kuhn would play a key role in the 1913 Armory Show. Biographer William Innes Homer writes: "Henri's emphasis on freedom and independence in art [as demonstrated in the Exhibition of Independent Artists], his rebuttal of everything the National Academy stood for, makes him the ideological father of the Armory Show."
The Armory Show, American's first large-scale introduction to European Modernism, was a mixed experience for Henri. He exhibited five paintings but, as a representational artist, he naturally understood that Cubism, Fauvism, and Futurism implied a challenge to his style of picture-making. In fact, he had cause to be worried. A man, not yet fifty, who saw himself in a vanguard was about to be relegated to the position of a conservative whose day had passed. Arthur B. Davies, an organizer of the show and a member of The Eight, was particularly disdainful of Henri's concern that the new European art would overshadow the work of American artists. On the other hand, some Henri scholars have insisted that the reputation Henri earned in later histories as an opponent of the Armory Show and of Modernism in general is unfair and vastly overstates his objections.They point out that he had a keen interest in new art and recommended that his students avail themselves of opportunities to study it. Art historian Sarah Vure notes that "[as] early as 1910, Henri advised students to attend an exhibition of works by Henri Matisse and two years later he urged them to see the work of Max Weber, one of the most avant-garde of American moderns." He urged painter Charles Sheeler to visit the Albert C. Barnes collection of modern art in Pennsylvania.
Never a conservative politically, Henri admired anarchist and Mother Earth publisher Emma Goldman and taught from 1911 at the Modern School. Goldman, who later sat for a portrait by Henri, described him as "an anarchist in his conception of art and its relation to life."
Henri made several trips to Ireland's western coast and rented Corrymore House near Dooagh, a small village on Achill Island, in 1913. Every spring and summer for the following years he would paint the children of Dooagh. Henri's portraits of children, seen today as the most sentimental aspect of his body of work, were popular at the time and sold well. In 1924, he purchased Corrymore House.During the summers of 1916, 1917 and 1922, Henri went to Santa Fe, New Mexico to paint. He found that locale as inspirational as the countryside of Ireland had been. He became an important figure in the Santa Fe art scene and persuaded the director of the state art museum to adopt an open-door exhibition policy. He also persuaded fellow artists George Bellows, Leon Kroll, John Sloan and Randall Davey to come to Santa Fe. In 1918 he was elected as an associate member of the Taos Society of Artists.
While traveling to the United States after visiting his summer home in Ireland in November 1928, Robert Henri suffered an attack of neuritis, which crippled his leg. (The underlying cause was metastatic prostate cancer.)He was hospitalized at St. Luke's Hospital in New York. Gradually he became weaker, until he died of cardiac arrest early in the morning of July 12, 1929. His illness was not generally known, and came as a surprise in art circles. Upon his death, artist and pupil Eugene Speicher said "not only was he a great painter, but ... I don't think it too much to call him the father of independent painting in this country." At his death, it was reported that he was cremated, and his ashes buried in the family vault in Philadelphia.
From 1915 to 1927, Henri was a popular and influential teacher at the Art Students League of New York. "He gave his students, not a style (though some imitated him), but an attitude, an approach, [to art]."He also lectured frequently about the theories of Hardesty Maratta, Denham Waldo Ross, and Jay Hambidge. (Henri's interest in these men, whose ideas were in fashion at the time but were not taken seriously later, has proved to be "the most misunderstood aspect of [Henri's] pedagogy"). Maratta and Ross were color theorists (Maratta manufactured his own system of synthetic pigments), while Hambidge was the author of an elaborate treatise, Dynamic Symmetry, that argued for a scientific basis for composition. Henri's philosophical and practical musings were collected by former pupil Margery Ryerson and published as The Art Spirit (1923), a book that remained in print for several decades. Henri's other students include George Bellows, Arnold Franz Brasz, Stuart Davis, Edward Hopper, Rockwell Kent, Henry Ives Cobb, Jr., Lillian Cotton, John Sloan, Minerva Teichert and Yasuo Kuniyoshi.
The significance and often formative influence of Henri as a teacher and mentor to women artists was acknowledged in American Women Modernists: The Legacy of Robert Henri (2005). Comparing the work of Henri's female students to their male Ashcan School contemporaries, Marion Wardle asserts, "An examination of their experiments in many media illuminates a much broader application of Henri's modernist ideals. ...Henri's women students contributed significantly to the structure of American modernism. They produced a large body of work, exhibited widely, won major art awards, belonged to and administered arts organizations, and taught art classes across America."
In the spring of 1929, Henri was named as one of the top three living American artists by the Arts Council of New York. Henri died of cancer that summer at the age of sixty-four. He was eulogized by colleagues and former students and was honored with a memorial exhibition of seventy-eight paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Forbes Watson, editor of The Arts magazine wrote, "Henri, quite aside from his extraordinary personal charm, was an epoch-making man in the development of American art."
Fittingly, among Henri's most enduring works are his portraits of his fellow painters. His 1904 full-length portrait of George Luks (in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa) and his 1904 portrait of John Sloan (in the collection of The Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.), for example, exhibit all the classic elements of his style: forceful brushwork, intense (if dark) color effects, evocation of personality (his and the sitter's), and generosity of spirit.
The Robert Henri Museum in Cozad, Nebraska occupies one of Henri's former homes and focuses on his work.
The National Arts Club in New York City is home to the Robert Henri Library which includes artwork and a number of scrapbooks belonging to Henri. The Library is made available to qualifying scholars and professionals. Henri became an Artist Life Member of the Club in 1913.
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.
The Armory Show, also known as the International Exhibition of Modern Art, was a show organized by the Association of American Painters and Sculptors in 1913. It was the first large exhibition of modern art in America, as well as one of the many exhibitions that have been held in the vast spaces of U.S. National Guard armories.
Stuart Davis, was an early American modernist painter. He was well known for his jazz-influenced, proto-pop art paintings of the 1940s and 1950s, bold, brash, and colorful, as well as his Ashcan School pictures in the early years of the 20th century. With the belief that his work could influence the sociopolitical environment of America, Davis' political message was apparent in all of his pieces from the most abstract to the clearest. Contrary to most modernist artists, Davis was aware of his political objectives and allegiances and did not waver in loyalty via artwork during the course of his career. By the 1930s, Davis was already a famous American painter, but that did not save him from feeling the negative effects of the Great Depression, which led to his being one of the first artists to apply for the Federal Art Project. Under the project, Davis created some seemingly Marxist works; however, he was too independent to fully support Marxist ideals and philosophies. Despite several works that appear to reflect the class struggle, Davis' roots in American optimism is apparent throughout his lifetime.
George Benjamin Luks was an American realist artist, painter, comics artist and illustrator. His vigorously painted genre paintings of urban subjects are examples of the Ashcan School of American art.
John French Sloan was an American painter and etcher. He is considered to be one of the founders of the Ashcan school of American art. He was also a member of the group known as The Eight. He is best known for his urban genre scenes and ability to capture the essence of neighborhood life in New York City, often observed through his Chelsea studio window. Sloan has been called "the premier artist of the Ashcan School who painted the inexhaustible energy and life of New York City during the first decades of the twentieth century" and an "early twentieth-century realist painter who embraced the principles of Socialism and placed his artistic talents at the service of those beliefs."
The Ashcan School, also called the Ash Can School, was an artistic movement in the United States during the late 19th-early 20th century that is best known for works portraying scenes of daily life in New York, often in the city's poorer neighborhoods.
Jerome Myers was an American artist and writer associated with the Ashcan School, particularly known for his sympathetic depictions of the urban landscape and its people. He was one of the main organizers of the 1913 Armory Show, which introduced European modernism to America.
George Wesley Bellows was an American realist painter, known for his bold depictions of urban life in New York City. He became, according to the Columbus Museum of Art, "the most acclaimed American artist of his generation".
William James Glackens was an American realist painter and one of the founders of the Ashcan School of American art. He is also known for his work in helping Albert C. Barnes to acquire the European paintings that form the nucleus of the famed Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. His dark-hued, vibrantly painted street scenes and depictions of daily life in pre-WW I New York and Paris first established his reputation as a major artist. His later work was brighter in tone and showed the strong influence of Renoir. During much of his career as a painter, Glackens also worked as an illustrator for newspapers and magazines in Philadelphia and New York City.
Arthur Bowen Davies was an avant-garde American artist and influential advocate of modern art in the United States c. 1910–1928.
Ernest Lawson was a Canadian-American painter and a member of The Eight, a group of artists who formed a loose association in 1908 to protest the narrowness of taste and restrictive exhibition policies of the conservative, powerful National Academy of Design. Though Lawson was primarily a landscape painter, he also painted a small number of realistic urban scenes. His painting style is heavily influenced by the art of John Henry Twachtman, J. Alden Weir, and Alfred Sisley. Though considered an American Impressionist, Lawson falls stylistically between Impressionism and realism.
Everett Shinn was an American realist painter and member of the Ashcan School. He also exhibited with the short-lived group known as "The Eight," who protested the restrictive exhibition policies of the powerful, conservative National Academy of Design. He is best known for his robust paintings of urban life in New York and London, a hallmark of Ashcan art, and for his theater and residential murals and interior-design projects. His style varied considerably over the years, from gritty and realistic to decorative and rococo.
American Realism was a style in art, music and literature that depicted contemporary social realities and the lives and everyday activities of ordinary people. The movement began in literature in the mid-19th century, and became an important tendency in visual art in the early 20th century. Whether a cultural portrayal or a scenic view of downtown New York City, American realist works attempted to define what was real.
Moses Soyer was an American social realist painter.
Edith Dimock was an American painter. Her work was exhibited at the 1913 Armory Show in New York. She married fellow artist, William Glackens, but continued to use her maiden name professionally after the marriage.
Edith Haworth (1878-1953) was an American painter, who studied art in New York and showed her work in New York City and Detroit, Michigan, particularly at the Detroit Institute of Arts. In 1903 she was co-founder and treasurer of the Detroit Society of Women Painters.
Marjorie Organ Henri was an Irish-born American illustrator, cartoonist and caricaturist.
Mary (May) Wilson Watkins Preston was an American illustrator of books and magazines and an impressionist painter. She had an interest in art beginning in her teenage years, but her parents sent her to Oberlin College hoping that she would develop another interest. After three years, and at the urging of one of her teachers, Preston's parents allowed her to return to New York and attend the Art Students League. She then studied in Paris with James Whistler and next at the New York School of Art with William Merritt Chase.
James Moore Preston (1873–1962) was an American painter and illustrator, married to fellow artist May Wilson Preston. He was one of the Ashcan School, along with his friend, William Glackens.
Louise Josephine Pope was an American painter. She studied at the New York School of Art, and then went abroad to study in Paris, Amsterdam and Madrid with Robert Henri. She exhibited work in the Salon d'Automne in Paris in 1912. In the United States, she exhibited at the National Academy of Design, the 1910 Exhibition of Independent Artists, the 1913 New York Armory Show, and the 1915 Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture by Women Artists for the Benefit of the Woman Suffrage Campaign, among others, contributing to the introduction of European Modernism to the United States.
Robert Henri, eminent American artist, died early yesterday morning at St. Luke's Hospital. Although he had been a patient at the institution since November, his illness was not generally known and his death came as a surprise to art circles.
The ashes will be buried in the family vault at Philadelphia this week.
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