Art Students League of New York

New York, NY



League Masters Then


In their quest for a meaningful education, many of America's most outstanding twentieth-century artists sought out one particular school. For most, it was simply the place to go if one wanted to study with the best artists of the day, such as William Merritt Chase, Robert Henri, John Sloan or Hans Hofmann. This mecca, The Art Students League of New York, is now in its 125th year. Celebrating that anniversary, the school has organized an exhibit of works by artists who once taught or studied in its famed studios. League Masters Then will be on view from November 3 through 26, 2000, in the League's second-fioor gallery. (left: Rockwell Kent, When the Sun Shines, 1926-27, oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches, Private Collection, Courtesy Babcock Galleries, New York.)

Saluting the school's rich history, the exhibition includes paintings, prints, drawings and sculptures by such notables as Rockwell Kent, John Henry Twachtman. Isabel Bishop, Jose de Creeft, Eva Hesse, Louise Bourgeois, Stuart Davis, Milton Avery. Will Barnet and Robert Rauschenberg. Organized by a group of current instructors and students, the exhibit drew from the collections of individuals, including several current instructors, the inventories of major galleries in New York and the League's own permanent collection. (left: Raphael Soyer, Couple in Armchair, 1935, oil on canvas, © 1935 Estate of Raphael Soyer, Courtesy Forum Gallery, New York)

Unique in its approach to art education, the League has maintained from the start an atelier system that guarantees instructor autonomy within the studio and diverse options for its students, who register for classes on a monthly basis. "If results are the measure of an art school's achievement, then the League has been doing something right for over a century and a quarter," said H. Max Horbund, League president. "Founded by art students who wanted to choose their own instructors, the League is a daring experiment that succeeded with documented results." Horbund continued, "Quintessentially American in its respect for choice, the League's way of nurturing artists has produced a roster of talent that is the envy of the world." (left: Thomas Hart Benton, Self-Portrait, 1972, lithograph, © T. H. Benton and R. P. Benton Testamentary Trust / VAGA, New York, NY)

League Masters Then offers glimpses of a few well-known artists' work before they achieved fame. A still-life by a young Georgia O'Keeffe, represents her successful studies with William Merritt Chase as it was awarded a scholarship prize by the League in 1906. Jackson Pollock's Deposition, a figurative oil painting done during his time at the League, 1930 - 33, reflects the influence of his teacher then, Thomas Hart Benton. Adolph Gottlieb, who studied at the League in 1920, is represented by one of his pictographic works from the early 1940s. From the same decade, a transitional work by Mark Rothko represents a stage in the development of his signature format of stacked fields of color. (left: Adolph Gottlieb, The Alchemist's Fluid, 1946, oil on canvas, © Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY)

The school's outstanding history of sculpture instruction will be celebrated with works by William Zorach, David Smith, Dorothy Dehner and others. Notable printmakers alsn taught and worked there, represented by images created by Martin Lewis, Peggy Brook Bacon, Armin Landeck and George Grosz. A brilliant landscape by Rockwell Kent, a League instructor in the late 1920s, has been reproduced in a commemorative poster for the exhibition.

Read more about the Art Students League of New York in Resource Library Magazine.

Please click on thumbnail images bordered by a red line to see enlargements.

For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 4/6/11

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