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Excerpt from The New York Times:

William Glackens Spent a Life Painting What Was Before Him

WATERMILL, N.Y. — Once derided as a slavish admirer of Renoir, the painter and illustrator William Glackens is among the most intriguing and underestimated participants in the first wave of 20th-century American modernism. That perception is confirmed by the enlightening and overdue, if still deficient, survey of his dappled canvases and dazzling drawings at the Parrish Art Museum here. It should be required viewing for anyone interested in the period.

Glackens, who was born in Philadelphia in 1870 and educated at that city’s prestigious Central High School, was briefly affiliated with a loose group of urban-conscious realist painters known first as the Eight and later as the Ashcan School. Several of these artists initially clustered around the charismatic painter Robert Henri, who urged them to paint unidealized images of modern life, albeit using the tried-and-true spontaneity of past masters like Manet, Hals and Velázquez. The Eight earned their name because of an exhibition that Henri organized of eight painters — including himself, his friends and protégés — at the Macbeth Galleries in New York in 1908. Their art briefly aroused criticism and acclaim, but it was quickly superseded by the work of more advanced artists revolving around the photographer and art dealer Alfred Stieglitz, and then the 1913 Armory Show, which introduced a panoply of modernisms — Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, Cubism, Duchamp — to the American public.

A handsome, congenial, ambitious man who traveled early and often to Paris, Glackens led an unusually pleasant life, especially for an artist. He made a happy marriage with Edith Dimock, an artist from Hartford, who was of independent mind and means and trained at the Art Students League. Until his death in 1938, and especially once Edith came into her full inheritance in 1917, Glackens could spend much of his time drawing and painting what was almost always immediately in front of him. This included mostly public parks, people relaxing at the seashore and portraits or interior scenes involving family and friends, like the “Artist’s Daughter in Chinese Costume,” of 1918. A demure portrait that is nonetheless a riot of the textured reds of rug, drapes and upholstery, this large canvas is perhaps less derivative of Renoir than it is slightly ahead of late Bonnard.


William Glackens , American, (1870-1938)
b. March 13, 1870, Philadelphia, PA
d. 1938

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