Blue Snow, The Battery
Painted in 1910
Columbus Museum of Art
Excavation at Night
Painted in 1908
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Arkansas
Source: National Gallery of Art, London / theartwolf.com
Formed at the beginning of the 20th century, the Ashcan School was a realist artistic movement focused on portraying scenes from the modern life, specially in New York and Philadelphia. According to the National Gallery, the Ashcan Painters developed "a uniquely American point of view on the beauty, violence and velocity of the modern world – and a new way to represent them".
While the Ashcan School is widely known in America, this artistic movement is not so famous in Europe, where exhibitions featuring works by the Ashcan Painters have been rare. Now, the National Gallery of London hosts a small exhibition of 12 paintings that have never been seen before in the United Kingdom.
'An American Experiment: George Bellows and the Ashcan Painters' features 7 works by George Bellows (1882-1925), who is believed by many critics to be the most acclaimed American artist of his generation. 'Excavation at Night' (1908, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Arkansas) is an impressive night scene of New York City. The painting, according to the National Gallery, recalls "the paintings of light-in-darkness by the 18th-century artist Joseph Wright ‘of Derby’". A more pleasant but equally strong composition is 'Blue Snow, The Battery' (1910, Columbus Museum of Art), which depicts the 25-acre public park immediately adjacent to Wall Street at the tip of Lower Manhattan. Bellows, a talented painter with a very active social conscience, is the great narrator of the life of the New Yorker’s lower-middle class of his era. His importance has not been ignored by the art market: in 1999, his 1910 painting 'Polo Crowd' was sold at Sotheby's for $27.5 million to billionaire Bill Gates, a record price for an American painting
Other artists from the Ashcan School represented at the exhibition are William Glackens, George Luks, John Sloan and their teacher Robert Henri