Posts Tagged ‘George Luks Ashcan School’

Where life in New York City was lived “on the steps”

July 11, 2022

Between the cramped spaces, poor ventilation, and shadowy hallways, life inside a New York City tenement could be hard to bear, especially in warm weather. For relief, people headed to their outside steps: men buried themselves in the newspaper, women rocked babies, small kids played games. In a pre-air conditioned city, front stoops were lively places.

It’s unclear exactly where Ashcan painter George Luks captured this scene outside a rundown building. But he appropriately named the painting “On the Steps”—where much of life played out in New York’s tenement districts.

The butcher cart comes to the downtown slums

January 21, 2019

Gritty, virile street scenes, tender portraits of humanity, iridescent landscapes: George Luks depicted early 20th century New York with astonishing versatility.

But if there’s one Luks painting that combines all three artistic strengths, it might be The Butcher Cart, which this social realist Ashcan artist completed in 1901.

“George Luks is known for his unromanticized depictions of the slums and crowded market streets of lower Manhattan,” explains the Art Institute of Chicago, which owns the painting.

“In The Butcher Cart, he portrayed a dark view of New York street life, frankly acknowledging modern technology and class stratification,” “An old-fashioned horse-drawn cart packed with butchered pigs lumbers down a slushy street, steered by a man hunched over the reins.”