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Artists William Glackens
William Glackens Photo

William Glackens

American Painter

Movements and Styles: Ashcan School, Realism, American Impressionism, Early American Modernism

Born: March 13, 1870 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Died: May 22, 1938 - Westport, Connecticut

William Glackens Timeline

Quotes

"Art, like humanity, every time has an ancestry."
William Glackens
"The early Americans were illustrative. It was France that showed them the error of their project."
William Glackens
"I have found out that the pursuit of color is hard on drawing just as the pursuit of drawing is hard on color."
William Glackens
"The Old Masters were the only ones who really knew how to draw - and ...they drew flat...high lights are vulgar, and...when one goes boldly and directly to express an idea he is at once assailed as clumsy."
William Glackens
"Flowers have absolute purity, and their extraordinary variety of color makes them irresistible."
William Glackens

"The man with something to say is an important man in art - in fact, the only man who may claim the title of artist. The manner of his expression matters very little. That will take care of itself. The man with something to say generally says it pretty well."

William Glackens Signature

Synopsis

William Glackens invigorated American painting from its Eurocentric, tradition-bound academicism, bringing the observational skills learned as a newspaper illustrator to new urban subjects. One of the first American artists to find success without training in Europe, Glackens's attention to color and expressive brushwork, along with his willingness to experiment, marked a turn towards modernism. A founding member of the group of artists known as "The Eight," also referred to by critics (and later, scholars) as the Ashcan School, Glackens differed from his colleagues by focusing more on scenes of leisure and entertainment rather than the slums of the Lower East Side. He was also unapologetic of his admiration for European painting and popularized the quick brushwork and bright palettes of the Impressionists among American audiences.

Key Ideas

Although he did not self-identify as part of the Ashcan School, Glackens's attention to ordinary, modern, urban subjects and their unidealized presentation connects him to the core tenets of that movement. In documenting his world, he also incorporated the style of the Impressionists, as well as their interest in contemporary, urban leisure.
An admirer of French Impressionism, Glackens adopted the free brushstroke and brilliant color of his role models. Known as the "American Renoir," he reinterpreted the Impressionist focus on modern Paris by depicting similar scenes from 20th-century New York. Rather than cafe culture and the boulevard, he painted nightclubs, department stores, and crowded slums. His version of these scenes, captured with a sense of immediacy and freshness, helped to popularize an American Impressionist movement.
An active planner and participant in several groundbreaking art exhibitions, including the Macbeth show of 1908, the Armory Show of 1913, and the Society of Independent Artists, Glackens created an important precedent for the display of art in the US and abroad.
A childhood friend of the businessman Albert C. Barnes, Glackens was instrumental in the formation of the Barnes Collection, one of the leading collections of modern art assembled by a single owner in the 20th century. In gathering works for Barnes, Glackens brought together works by European and American painters, allowing their mutual influences to be better understood.

Biography

William Glackens Photo

Childhood and Education

Williams Glackens was born the youngest of three children to Elizabeth and Samuel Glackens, a clerk and cashier for the Pennsylvania Railroad. While a family of modest means, Glackens was well educated, attending Central High School with future artists John Sloan and James Preston, and the future pharmaceutical inventor and collector Albert C. Barnes. Glackens, whose nickname in school was "Butts," showed a proclivity for art at an early age and often produced funny drawings and scenes of school life for the amusement of his fellow students.

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William Glackens Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
William Glackens
Interactive chart with William Glackens's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Paul CézannePaul Cézanne
Edgar DegasEdgar Degas
Robert HenriRobert Henri
George LuksGeorge Luks
Édouard ManetÉdouard Manet

Personal Contacts

Albert C. BarnesAlbert C. Barnes
Charles FitzGerald
Juliana Force

Movements

ImpressionismImpressionism
Modernism and Modern ArtModernism and Modern Art
RealismRealism

Influences on Artist
William Glackens
William Glackens
Years Worked: 1891 - 1937
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Marsden HartleyMarsden Hartley
Robert HenriRobert Henri
George LuksGeorge Luks
Alfred MaurerAlfred Maurer
Maurice PrendergastMaurice Prendergast

Personal Contacts

Albert C. BarnesAlbert C. Barnes
Charles FitzGerald
Juliana Force
James B. Moore

Movements

Ashcan SchoolAshcan School
ImpressionismImpressionism
Modernism and Modern ArtModernism and Modern Art
RealismRealism

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Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Sarah Archino

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Sarah Archino
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