John Sloan was born in 1871 in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. When he was five, his family moved to Philadelphia. When his father's business failed, Sloan left school to go to work.

While employed by a firm that sold books, greeting cards and fine prints, he taught himself etching, drawing and lettering. Sloan's professional career as an artist began as an illustrator for Philadelphia newspapers, the Enquirer and the Press. He later joined the staff of the Philadelphia Inquirer as an illustrator.

Young John found time to attend art classes and frequent the studio of the painter Robert Henri. This was a gathering place for many young artists who found inspiration from this great teacher. sloan began painting seriously and in 1904 he and his wife followed Robert Henri to New York.

Sloan Found the city very exciting and he immersed himself in the sidewalks of New York, which he viewed as a kind of stage set. He recorded little vignettes of city life and a diary, as well as in his sketchbook and on his canvases. His favorite subjects were the city streets and cafes.

In 1907 John Sloan and Robert Henri formed a group of eight artists known as the Ashcan School. The artists rejected the officially approved styles of painting and subject matter. They wanted to paint honest simple scenes from American life and be recognized as American Painters. They were rebelling against the great attention that the public and other artists were paying toward the picturesque places of Europe.
 

After sixteen years of painting, Sloan made his first sale. That same year he was exhibited in the Armor show--the most publicized, ridiculed and visited event in the history of American art.

When Sloan Died in 1951, he had become a legend in the art world, known for his keen eye and marvelous work. The centennial of his birth was celebrated with a commemorative postage stamp and a retrospective exhibit by the National Gallery of Art.


THE CITY FROM GREENWICH VILLAGE - In this painting we see the distant lights of downtown office buildings amid the gathering darkness of a winter evening. Yellow-green light contrasts dramatically with the plum-colored shades in the sky and the stark black of the buildings. The viewer peers out over Manhattan, where two tall buildings go upward. The curve of the elevated tracks helps to lead our eyes to this destination. Sloan wanted to make a record of the older city that was giving way to the towers of modern New York.

 

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