Friday, April 15, 2011

“PAINT WHAT YOU FEEL. PAINT WHAT YOU SEE. PAINT WHAT IS REAL FOR YOU”






Portrait of Henri with hand in pocket
photography si.ed
From en wikipedia.org


As he roamed among the drawing boards, stopping to comment on a picture, or stood and expounded before a spellbound group, the charismatic Robert Henri offered not just technical advice but a philosophy of life in which writers shared center stage with great artists of the past and present. His ideas on the making of art were formed in part during his years in France, where he had studied with the academic painter William Adolphe Bouguereau while preparing to enter the École des Beaux-Arts. Although Henri eventually rebelled against the elaborate allegorical figure paintings rendered in a highly finished technique that formed the mainstay of academic training, he absorbed other aspects of the French system. From Bouguereau he learned the importance of designing the canvas as a whole in order to achieve a unified composition. He also adopted the academic technique of making rapid oil sketches, or pochades, either as preparatory studies for larger works or as informal outdoor studies.
(From Metropolitan Lives: The Ashcan Artists and Their New York at artchive.com)



Robert Henry
From nga.gov


Originally Robert Henry Cozad, Robert Earl Henri was born on June 25, 1865, in Cincinnati, Ohio. His father, John Jackson Cozad, was a former gambler turned real estate developer, and his mother, Theresa Gatewood Cozad, was a housewife. In 1873, he and his family moved west to the great plains of Nebraska, where his father founded the town of Cozad. The town was inhabited primarily by farmers and, because their farms occupied choice grazing land, Henri's father had difficulties with the established cattle ranchers who had been there for many years. One evening, in 1882, one of the cattle ranchers attacked Henri's father with a knife. In self-defense, he mortally shot him with a pistol, and then fled. Although he was later cleared of any wrong doing, he never returned. Instead, he settled in Denver, Colorado, where his family later reunited with him. In order to disassociate themselves from the scandal, each of the family members changed their names, and Robert Henry Cozad became Robert Earl Henri (pronounced Hen-rye).
(tfaoi.com)
Henri argued that art must inform the living of life, just as "life" must inform the making of art. To achieve the direct transmission of self into art, he advised painters to work quickly on the entire canvas rather than labor over individual parts. He urged them to work the way news artists already did as a matter of course: "Do it all in one sitting if you can. In one minute if you can." Most important, art, like news, must be of its own time, based on subjects drawn from the contemporary world of the artist's own experience and that experience should be as wide ranging as possible. Henri cited realist and naturalist fiction to demonstrate the interest that the "real world" held for great artists, but even more he quoted Wait Whitman. In the 1890s Whitman was still regarded as a local hero to Philadelphians (including Eakins) who had made the pilgrimage across the bridge to Camden, New Jersey, to pay their respects to the aging poet. Philadelphia's free spirits paid collective tribute following Whitman's death in 1892. That year Sloan and Henri became friends when Sloan lent the older artist the recent "deathbed edition" of Whitman's Leaves of Grass. Both artists admired Whitman's close observation and ecstatic celebration of the daily lives of all Americans
(Metropolitan Lives: The Ashcan Artists and Their New York at artchive.com)
Henri visited Italy prior to being admitted to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1891. He returned to Philadelphia late that year, and in 1892 resumed studying at the academy. He also began his long and influential career as an art teacher at the School of Design for Women, where he taught until 1895. During this period he met the young newspaper illustrators who would later achieve fame as members of The Eight. He made regular trips to Paris where he was particularly influenced by Edouard Manet, Frans Hals, and Diego Velázquez. In 1899, one year after his marriage to Linda Craige, one of his paintings was purchased for the Musée National du Luxembourg.
(National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC at nga.gov)



Robert Henry
From encyclopedia.com


Henri, along with John Sloan, William Glackens, George Luks, Everett Shinn, James Preston, Edward Davis, and Charles Redfield, held academic and officially sanctioned art in contempt. They complained that it was cloistered, effete, monotonous, and "fenced in with tasseled ropes and weighed down with … bronze plates." These young artistic rebels believed that American art should be public in the broadest sense of the word and have relevance to the people, not just to art experts. According to Henri, American artists had too long been under the sway of the standards and subject matter of European high art. Henri and The Eight challenged the enshrining of European aesthetics. Following in the foot-steps of novelists such as Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville, and the essayist Henry David Thoreau, who celebrated what they called "an American spirit," Henri turned his artistic vision to native themes. By doing so, he insisted that the unique qualities of America should shape its artists and its art.
(encyclopedia.com0



Spanish Dancing Girl
Oil on canvas, 1904
Private collection
From artchive.com



Indian Girl
From ownapainting.com



Gregorita with the Santa Clara Bowl
From bestpriceart.com



Maria y Consuelo (Gitana)
Oil on canvas
Private Collection
From museuma.com



Willie Gee
From camillereads.com



Spanish Girl
From photobucket.com


Although Henri painted some city views of the sort that his Ashcan School colleagues produced, he more often turned his attention to portraits. Henri's portrait exemplifies his directness in representing his models. Nothing but the figure engages him; the background offers no distractions; and the legacy of Diego Velázquez's naturalistic portraits is palpable.
(Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History The Metropolitan Museum of Art at metmuseum.org)
Henri had a profound impact on American art. A popular teacher and advocate of adventurous styles of painting, he shaped The Eight and the Ashcan School. His dynamic presence as an artist and educator and his enthusiasm for the details of life brought a new confidence to American artists. With Henri as the unofficial leader, the innovative group of artists known as "The Eight" was formed in 1907. Influenced by the newspaper illustrators among them, they were determined to realistically portray city life. At the time, America was torn between economic extremes; industrialists accumulated great fortunes while massive immigration led to urban poverty. The accuracy of their paintings of New York slums led to the nickname "Ashcan School." Although The Eight held only one exhibition as a group in 1908, several members were instrumental in organizing the famous 1913 New York Armory Show that revolutionized American modern art.
(tfaoi.com)



Cumulus Clouds, East River
Oil on canvas
Private collection
From artchive.com



Snow in New York
Oil on canvas
National Gallery of Art
Digital photograph by User:Postdlf
From en.wikipedia.org


In 1909 Henri established his own art school on upper Broadway in New York City, and many of his students followed him there from the New York School of Art, including George Bellows and Edward Hopper. There Henri inspired another generation of modern painters, including Stanton Macdonald-Wright, Patrick Henry Bruce, and Stuart Davis. Henri continued to train his students in his philosophy of freedom of expression. He read out loud from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. Henri and his students took to wandering in the streets looking for subjects and turned their sights on the city's new immigrants. They filled their canvases with scenes of Coney Island, Union Square, and the Bowery. Henri painted the rivers in and around New York City and painted them in bleakest winter. For Henri, the New York skyline, with its looming buildings and steel bridges, symbolized the energy of the city. Others labeled the creators of these works the "Ash Can School" for their gritty imagery.
(encyclopedia.com)



Robert Henri Class
Robert Henri is the mustached man (front row)
New York School of Art
From ckchatterton.com


"The Chase School was like no other. It was more than the sum of its parts: the smoke-filled studios; the exceptional instructors; the little bakery shop where, for ten cents, we got milk and buns - or the "real" restaurant down the street where, if we were flush, we got a dinner of Beef a la Mode (usually slightly tainted) for twenty-five cents; the Saturday night operas (standing room in the top gallery for fifty cents); the theatre - Maude Adams, James O'Neill, William Faversham, Weber and Fields, Lillian Russell, Sothern and Marlowe. It was a way of life. But, perhaps in the final analysis the group living that life was the most remarkable thing about the school. I doubt that there has ever been so much talent and individuality studying under one roof at the same time." - Chatterton's recollection at ckchatterton.com



Jessica Penn in Black with White Plumes
From oceansbridge.com


“Henri's talks were always stimulating, often philosophical, and ranged widely beyond the craft of painting. He liked Walt Whitman enormously. Of the painters, Manet was a great favorite - especially the Woman with Parrot in the Met, and the Boy with Sword. He also talked at length about Glackens and Sloan, his great friends. (This was the birthplace of the Ashcan School.) We all thought "The Eight" were absolutely tops and rushed to see everything they painted.
We also rushed to see Henri's work. I remember admiring particularly a portrait, Young Woman in Black, exhibited at the National Academy. We all thought it a great painting and went to see it many times. It is a very sensitively painted head and one of his best, something like Whistler.” - Chatterton's recollection at ckchatterton.com
Henri's influence began to wane after the ascent of European modernism, although he continued to win numerous awards. He taught at the Art Students League from 1915 until 1927.
Although Henri was an important portraitist and figure painter, he is best remembered as a progressive and influential teacher. His ideas on art were collected by former pupil Margery Ryerson and published as The Art Spirit (Philadelphia, 1923). He died in 1929 at the age of sixty-four.
(National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC at nga.gov)


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