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 William James Glackens  (1870 - 1938)

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania/New York/Connecticut / France      Known for: genre, figure, landscape and still-life painting

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William James Glackens
from Auction House Records.
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Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Philadelphia, William Glackens became an Impressionist painter who modified the style by retaining delineation of figures. But early in his career, he was an active Social Realist when the 'Ash Can' approach to painting was being promoted by Glackens' good friend, Robert Henri. However, Glackens eschewed subjects of the seamier side of society and adopted more refined depictions such as upper class persons strolling in parks, sitting in cafes, and studio posed still lifes and figures. Of Glackens' inclination to distance himself from less-than-pleasant subjects, art historian Matthew Baigell wrote: "Of all the realists around Henri, Glackens was perhaps least attracted to the life of the streets, preferring scenes of middle-class activities in parks, in the theater, at shopping, or on vacation." (136).

He also did many paintings of seaside resorts on Cape Cod and Long Island, particularly Bellport where he and his family spent summers. Surprising to many of his associates was the fact that even though he had much exposure in Europe to avant-garde thinking, he expressed little interest in the modernist art movements that followed Impressionism and that took such hold among his peers.

Glackens graduated from Philadelphia's Central High School with John Sloan, and in 1891 became an artist-reporter for the "Philadelphia Record." He did the same kind of work from 1892 to 1895 for the "Philadelphia Press". He studied briefly at the Pennsylvania Academy with Thomas Anshutz, and there formed a strong bond of friendship with John Sloan, George Luks, Everett Shinn and Robert Henri and then shared a studio and traveled in Europe with Henri. He spent a year in Paris where he painted many scenes of life in the parks and cafes.

Glackens settled in New York, worked as an illustrator, and in 1898, went to Cuba as an artist-reporter for "McClure's" magazine of the Spanish-American War. He became part of "The Eight," a landmark exhibition of urban realists, led by Henri, at the Macbeth Galleries.

In 1912, he went on an extensive art-buying trip in Europe for Albert Barnes, a friend from high school who had amassed a fortune from an antiseptic gargle solution. Barnes built a huge home and museum in Merion, a suburb of Philadelphia, and established the Barnes Museum. The many works of Renoir, Degas, Van Gogh and Cezanne that Glackens purchased for Barnes became the center of the Museum collection. This project also firmed Glackens' interest in the Impressionists, especially Renoir from whom he adopted "soft, feathery brush-work and rich, variegated colorism, with emphasis on sift pinks, yellows and greens"...(Gerdts 281)


Source:
Matthew Baigell, "Dictionary of American Art"
William Gerdts, "American Impressionism"


Biography from MB Fine Art, LLC:
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1870, William Glackens began his career at Philadelphia's Central High School with John Sloan. In 1891 he became an artist-reporter for the "Philadelphia Record." He did the same kind of work from 1892 to 1895 for the "Philadelphia Press" with John Sloan, George Luks and Everett Shinn. He studied briefly at the Pennsylvania Academy with Thomas Anshutz and then shared a studio and traveled in Europe with Robert Henri. There he painted many scenes of life in Paris's parks and cafes.

William Glackens settled in New York, worked as an illustrator, and was part of "The Eight," a landmark exhibition of urban realists at the Macbeth Galleries. Early in his painting career, he painted numerous scenes of Washington Square and Central Park but then turned to beach scenes.

The early work of Glackens, following Henri's lead, maintained "strong ties to Edouard Manet's darkened palette and brushy style of realism." After 1910, Glacken's palette began to brighten in response to his strong admiration of the work of French artists, Pierre August Renoir.

In 1919, Glackens began sharing a studio with artist Robert Henri, and the friendship changed the course of his life. Henri encouraged Glackens to pursue a full-time career as a professional artist.

He died suddenly in 1938 while visiting Charles Prendergast in Westport, Connecticut.

Biography from Owen Gallery:
The second of two children, William Glackens was born in Philadelphia to parents of Irish, English, and Pennsylvania Dutch descent. His first job was as an artist-reporter for the Philadelphia "Record." He then moved to the Philadelphia "Press where George Luks, Everett Shinn, and John Sloan were also employed.

In 1919, Glackens began sharing a studio with artist Robert Henri, and the friendship changed the course of his life. Henri encouraged Glackens to pursue a full-time career as a professional artist.

The early work of Glackens, following Henri's lead, maintained "strong ties to Edouard Manet's darkened palette and brushy style of realism." After 1910, Glacken's palette began to brighten in response to his strong admiration of the work of French artists, Pierre August Renoir.

After moving to New York in 1896, Glackens maintained a residence in the city for the rest of his life. He died suddenly in 1938 while visiting Charles Prendergast in Westport, Connecticut.

Owen Gallery credits "Painters of a New Century" by Elizabeth Milroy.

Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, IV:
William James Glackens (March 13, 1870–May 22, 1938) was a U.S. realist painter.

Glackens studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and later moved to New York City, where he co-founded what came to be called the Ashcan School art movement. This group of artists, dubbed by the press "the Eight Independent Painters" or The Eight, chose to exhibit their works without pre-approval by the juries of the existing art establishment. He became known for his dark-hued paintings of street scenes and daily life in the city's neighborhoods. His later work was brighter in tone, and showed the 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.

The country's largest collection of his art is housed at the Museum of Art | Fort Lauderdale, which has an entire wing dedicated to his works, and which holds a total of approximately 500 Glackens paintings in its permanent collection.

Source: www.wikipedia.com

Biography from The Columbus Museum of Art, Georgia:
Born and raised in Philadelphia, William Glackens began his career as a professional artist immediately following early draftsmanship training in high school, as an artist-reporter for the Philadelphia Record, and then the Philadelphia Press.  At the Philadelphia Press, his colleagues included Everett Shinn and George Luks, and their association became important later.

Glackens attended night classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts with fellow high school classmate, John Sloan.  Glackens and Sloan made up part of the short-lived Charcoal Club, an organized group that met twice weekly to draw from the nude and receive criticism from Robert Henri.

With a group of artists including Henri, Glackens traveled to Europe, visiting museums, meeting artists, and painting.  Glackens continued his career as an artist-reporter at the New York Herald, the New York World, and magazines such as McClure’s, Scribner’s, Putnam’s, and the Saturday Evening Post until around 1914 when he abandoned illustrating in favor of painting altogether.

While best known for his paintings, Glackens was also prominently involved in art organizations throughout the early twentieth century.  In 1908, Glackens participated in The Eight exhibition at the Macbeth Galleries.  The Eight was a group of eight artists who formulated a rebellion against academic painting and the exhibition circuit.

He also played significant roles in organizing the Exhibition of Independent Artists in 1910, and then the International Exhibition of Modern Art, the Armory Show, in 1913.  For the Armory Show, Glackens served on the American art selection committee. 

Paintings from Glackens’s early years as an artist reflect the technique and palette of Dutch and Spanish Baroque masters, while emulating the subject matter of the spectacle of modern life as proposed by the work of nineteenth-century French artists Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec.

Returning from Europe filled with ideas, Glackens adapted these influences to truly American subject matter in his own version of modern life.  With a keen eye for observation developed during his experiences as an illustrator, Glackens often depicted the activity at a park or modern pleasure locales from the eastern seaboard. He avoided straight portraiture but painted singular figures plucked from these entertainment locales.


Source:
1. For biographical information, see William Gerdts, William Glackens (Fort Lauderdale: Museum of Art, 1996).  Also, Ira Glackens, William Glackens and The Eight: The Artists Who Freed American Art, reprint (New York: Writers and Readers Publishing, 1990).


Submitted by staff, Columbus Museum

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William Glackens is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Illustrators
New York Armory Show of 1913
Impressionists Pre 1940
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915
Paris Pre 1900



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