Untitled Document

Artist Biography

 George Luks, originally was from Philadelphia, and came to New York with his fellow artists Robert Henri, John Sloan, William Glackens and Everett Shinn. Eventually as part of the Eight they would overturn the conventions of the new York art world at the Turn of the Century by daring to exhibit as a group and showing what up to that time was considered riske subject matter. By showing at Montross Gallery they broke the back of the conservative National Academy of Design and inaugurated the era of individual or group exhibitions at commercial galleries. Luks, more so than any other artist, personified the ideals and life style of what became known as the "Ashcan School" or the "Black Gang." The late Lloyd Goodrich, Director of The Whitney Museum of American Art, summed of the career of Ashcan artist George Luks in the following:


"George Luks' art was the expression of a robust love of life. His work affirmed his enjoyment of the world and hid delight in translating it into paint. Humanity was the center of his art; he was interested in men and women more than in nature or his own emotions. A spontaneous human sympathy pervaded everything he did, and gave even his meanest subjects a warmth and glow that were entirely personal. He loved character more than formal beauty, and enjoyed painting the least conventional aspects of of the life around him, finding something picturesque in the crudest and commonest themes. A pioneer of realism in this country, he helped introduce into the somewhat genteel art world of his youth a more frank and masculine attitude towards life. A highly gifted ... artist, he gave to everything he touched a gusto that made it live."


This particular work was done while in Boston in 1922, while working with the Boston artist Margarett W. Sargent. He must have been a made quite an impact on her for she and her husband eventually built a large collection of Luk's work. St. Botolph Street is a classic Ashcan work in its composition with its focus on several women sitting out on the stoop of an urban dwelling. Nocturnal streets scenes like this, by members of the Eight, influenced and directly anticipate Henri's pupil Edward Hopper in his masterpiece Nighthawks, collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.