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Robert Henri

Robert Henri

An influential American painter, Henri (1865–1929) helped establish the Ashcan School of painting which aimed to create new, more realistic art that spoke more directly to their own time and experience. In contrast to his earlier love for more loosely painted Impressionist art, Henri argued for the depiction of urban life at its realest, toughest and most exuberant. He was interested in the spectacle of common life, and he depicted realistic scenes of everyday life in urban New York City in a gritty style with bold brushstrokes and thick layers of paint. He focused on individuals and strangers, quickly passing in the streets in towns and cities, painting them with a sympathetic warmth. Henri’s work had a lasting influence on those of his school who followed his lifelong credo — “art for life’s sake,” rather than “art for art’s sake.”