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Robert Henri

Born: 1865, Cincinnati, Ohio, United States of America
Died: 1929, New York, New York, United States of America
Gender: Male


Robert Henri studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Académie Julian, and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts; however, he came to be known for reacting against the conservatism of such established art institutions. Henri’s European sojourn in the late 1880s catalyzed his ideal that art should spring from an individual’s experience of life. This belief in the subjectivity of artistic expression became Henri’s working philosophy and shaped his unorthodox choice of subjects and the style of his many paintings, particularly those of the city rendered in painterly dark tonalities. Such paintings by him and those by his like-minded followers were dubbed the work of the “Ashcan school.” Henri’s success in sharing his ideas obtained him a reputation as one of the nation’s most influential figures in the arts during the early decades of the twentieth century. Henri was an organizer of and participant in such infamous independent exhibitions as The Eight of 1908 and the Exhibition of Independent Artists of 1910 (often acknowledged as the prototype of the 1913 International Exhibition of Modern Art—the Armory Show). He was also a well-respected teacher and mentor of artists, among them George Bellows, Stuart Davis, Rockwell Kent, and John Sloan. Henri’s artistic ideas were published in his 1923 book The Art Spirit, which is still in print today.
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