Posts Tagged ‘George Luks’

A tough painter depicts a tender New York

April 27, 2015

George Luks arrived in New York from Philadelphia in 1896.

Passionate and energetic, he was one of many young painters (along with artist friends he met in Philly, like Everett Shinn and William Glackens) whose work focused on the tenderness of the city’s underbelly.

[“The Bread Line”]

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“One of the dynamic, young group of American Realists known as the Ashcan School, [Luks] was a tough character who in art and life embraced the gritty side of turn-of-the-century New York,” states the Brooklyn Museum.

Macho and combative, he first worked as an illustrator at the New York World, honing his skills outside of his newspaper job by painting peddlers, poor older women, street kids, and other down and out New Yorkers—as well as impressionist-like scenes of the city at play and at street markets.

[“Madison Square,” 1915]

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In 1908, he’d gained notoriety as a member of the Eight, a group of social realist painters whose dark, gripping work attracted controversy.

Artistic styles change fast, and soon, Luks’ urban realism was out of fashion.

“Ironically perhaps, by the time Luks exhibited at the Armory Show in 1913, his formerly radical subject matter and style were overshadowed by the developing abstract movement,” states one gallery site.

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[“Spring Morning in New York,” 1922]

220px-George_Luks_I“Luks would teach at the Art Students League in New York from 1920 to 1924 and go on to establish the George Luks School of Painting in New York,” on East 22nd Street.

His death in 1933, at age 66, was characteristically dramatic. On October 29, Luks (at left) was found in the early morning hours slumped in a doorway, beaten to death after a barroom brawl.

The bustling market on Hester Street in 1905

October 11, 2013

My favorite part of George Luks’ richly detailed “Street Scene (Hester Street)” are the plucked chickens hanging upside on on the right side of the canvas.

“One of the dynamic, young group of American Realists known as the Ashcan School, George Luks was a tough character who in art and life embraced the gritty side of turn-of-the-century New York,” states the caption to this painting on the website of the Brooklyn Museum.

Georgelukshesterstreet

“In this important early work, Luks pictured the street life of one of the Lower East Side’s teeming immigrant neighborhoods. By 1905, Hester Street had become home to a recently arrived population of Eastern European Jews and the site of a daily open-air market where thousands shopped for their necessities.

“Hester Street thus provided the type of unvarnished urban subject to which Luks was particularly drawn, and one from which New Yorkers accustomed to genteel shops and formal public etiquette would have recoiled.”

A nighttime view of Bleecker and Carmine Streets

April 5, 2013

It’s a dark night at this moment in time on the corner of Bleecker and Carmine Streets in 1915.

But there’s warmth and light from the shop windows and the apartments above, which illuminate small groups of Italian immigrants, who had settled into this part of the Village.

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Ashcan School artist and Greenwich Villager George Luks is the painter, and he often depicted immigrant crowds on city street corners.

Are we looking at the corner just across from Our Lady of Pompeii Church?

The pushcarts and peddlers of Houston Street

October 11, 2010

George Luks’ 1916 “Houston Street” shows a fiery, frenzied scene of buying and selling.

In a review of Luks’ work, a 1916 New York Times article gives kudos to some recent paintings, including this one of Houston Street, “blazing with Oriental color,” according to the Times.

Nighttime buying and selling on Allen Street

July 29, 2010

A dress shop, furniture and rugs for sale on the sidewalk, a pretzel vendor—there’s a lot happening on bustling Allen Street in George Luks’ 1905 painting of a Lower East Side street.