Untitled Document

Artist Biography

 Born in 1870 in Philadelphia, William Glackens began his art career as a talented illustrator. In his early twenties, Glackens was hired by various Philadelphia newspapers including the Record, the Press, and the Ledger. He began easel painting in the mid-1890's and periodically studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts where he developed a bond with fellow artists Robert Henri, George Luks, Everett Shinn, and John Sloan. In 1895, Glackens moved to Paris for a year and when he returned, became an illustrator and reporter for the Herald in New York. He was commissioned by other publications as well to create illustrations concerning the Spanish-American war.

While still a young man, Glackens' painting style developed into a "New York Realist," focusing on the vitality of urban life. He was a member of "The Eight," or the Ashcan School, a group of American artists who rebelled against conventional style and soft, conservative imagery of Impressionism. They were interested in urban realism and expressing the changes of modern life. It was during this time Glackens drew much of his inspiration from nearby Washington Square Park in New York. He was also intrigued by city beaches, and is remembered for his beach scenes depicted as public places, associated with recreation and leisure. He was not interested in merely portraying the peaceful landscape of the sea, but also the goings-on of the people and activities.

Initially, his artistic style was very much influenced by Edouard Manet, whose paintings he saw in Paris, in conjunction with his own illustrative approach. Later, after a second trip to France, Glackens' greatest influence became August Renoir. Glackens was able to take the brilliant color and feathery brushwork technique of Renoir and apply it to images of modern city life, thus often referred to as the "American Renoir."

Glackens was very active in the art community of his time. He created the American Society of Independent Artists and organized independent shows. He was also chairman of the American section of the infamous Armory Show of 1913. He exhibited often and his shows were held in prestigious venues including the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the National Arts Club Show in 1904, and the exhibition of "The Eight" in 1908.

William Glackens' work is found in numerous private collections and major museums including: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and the Barnes Foundation, Merion, PA.