Painters such as James McNeill Whistler and Childe Hassam exported the streetscape from Paris to America by creating various impressionistic vistas or bird’s-eye city views. As society became increasingly urbanized, art took a less genteel direction. Members of New York Ashcan movement urged painters to drop orthodoxy and depict the bustling streets of the city.
Although not an “organized” school of painting, the unity of the group consisted in a desire to grasp urban realities. The name ashcan (dustbin) was initially hurled against these artists as a term of derision – it became a banner of distinction.
As committed urbanists, these painters were both observers and participants. John French Sloan, Robert Henri and friends created a dynamic record of metropolitan street culture. Although attacked by their opponents as being “devotees of the ugly,” these artists looked for aesthetic vitality in ordinary life. [Read more…] about Greenwich Village’s Free and Independent Republic & John Sloan at Jefferson Market’s Night Court