Milwaukee Art Museum will host a major exhibition of America’s first modern art movement this autumn.
“The Ashcan School and The Eight: ‘Creating a National Art’,” which opens Sept. 23 and runs through Feb. 19, draws on the museum’s own important collection of works by the Ash Can School and The Eight artists, including Robert Henri, Arthur Bowen Davies, William Glackens, Ernest Lawson, George Luks, Maurice Prendergast, Everett Shinn and John Sloan.
These artists rejected what came before and used new techniques, including a loose painterly approach to paint subjects typically eschewed by their predecessors, drawing criticism from some (hence the “ashcan” epithet) and lauded by others, including one critic who opined that they were, “creating a national art.”
At a time when America and its teeming cities were home to millions of new immigrants, these artists painted tenements and other urban spaces, and the working class, capturing the country in this important moment in its history.
The MAM show will including nearly 150 works – paintings, drawings, prints, pastels – some iconic, others rarely seen.
Some of the works are from the collection of Milwaukee’s Abert family, who bought nearly 50 works by Ashcan School and The Eight artists with a plan to donate them to the museum.
“The Ashcan School and The Eight: ’Creating a National Art,’ is an opportunity to engage new audiences with key works from our esteemed collection that are emblematic of the seismic shift in the ethos of this contingent of American artists who were working at the turn of the 20th century,” said exhibition curator Brandon Ruud, a former MAM curator.
“Their break from longstanding tradition to instead portray a more authentic depiction of the American experience forged a new national art that prioritized an unfiltered representation of urban and working-class life and catalyzed the evolution of American modern art in the process.”
I’m especially excited to see George Benjamin Luks’ “Bleecker and Carmine Streets, New York (ca. 1905),” painted on a very familiar corner a few yards from where my grandmother and father grew up. (That’s the work pictured at the top of this post.)
“We are thrilled to welcome visitors from our Milwaukee community and beyond to explore the Museum’s unparalleled collection of works by artists of the Ashcan School and The Eight,” said Marcelle Polednik, Donna and Donald Baumgartner Director of the Milwaukee Art Museum.
“Five decades ago, the Abert family purchased nearly 50 works by members of the Ashcan School for the Museum’s collection, enabling us to tell the rich story of these important artists and their contributions to the field. This exhibition is an exciting opportunity to revisit these works and others that we have acquired in the years since, and to present them in new ways that both educate and inspire our audiences, while also celebrating the Abert family’s exemplary gift to the Museum.”
MAM will publish a 172-page catalog to accompany the exhibition.
Stay tuned for a preview of the exhibition closer to its opening day.
Visit mam.org for more information.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.