Untitled Document

Artist Biography

 Robert Henri was known as the outspoken leader of "The Eight," later called the Ashcan Group, who were responsible for the infamous Armory Show of 1913. His collection of lectures published in The Art Spirit (1923) greatly influenced the course of American art because he encouraged artists toward independence and personal expression, urging them to pay attention to their reactions to subject matter and to translate them directly into their paintings.

Robert Henri was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and spent his boyhood moving with his family around the mid-west and east coast. He began to draw at an early age, writing his own stories and illustrating them. Before enrolling at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1886, Henri was a sign painter for his father and a political cartoonist. During his second year at the Academy, Henri went to Paris with a group of his fellow students and attended the Académie Julian until 1891 when he was admitted to the elite École des Beaux-Arts. In 1889 Henri began to paint outdoors in Brittany, experimenting with the quick, sketchy brushstrokes that would become his signature style.

Despite his flirtation with Impressionism, Henri embarked on a course towards a different style. On a second trip to Europe in 1895 he studied the paintings of Frans Hals, Edouard Manet, and Diego Velazquez, and his work began to acquire a deeper tonality. His portraiture of the following decades was especially indebted to these painters, and displayed much of their bravura manner with bold brushwork and contrast of light and dark. Henri’s first Salon entries in 1896 and 1897 were portraits. On a third trip to Europe in 1899 he sold a painting to the French government for the Musée du Luxumbourg.

In the United States, Henri had a studio in Manhattan and painted New York street scenes while directing his attention toward figure painting. Henri was an organizer and supporter of independent exhibitions in New York and a strong critic of conservative academic juries. After some of his friends' works were rejected at the National Academy of Design's annual exhibition, Henri and seven other artists exhibited in 1908 as "The Eight" at Macbeth Gallery in New York. The show included some of the most important Urban Realists of the 1900's.

Robert Henri's works are held in many prestigious private collections, galleries, and museums around the world, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; The Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, PA; Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago. IL; Dallas Art Association, Dallas, TX; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA; Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY; and the Musée de Luxembourg, Paris, France.