A Year in Books/Day 95: John Sloan Painter and Rebel

  • Title: John Sloan Painter and Rebel
  • Author: John Loughery
  • Year Published: 1995 (Henry Holt and Company, Inc.)
  • Year Purchased: 2001-2003
  • Source: Barnes & Noble clearance rack
  • About: Even though I’ve worked in galleries on and off for years, I had never heard of John Sloan before I bought this book; he’s now one of my favourite twentieth century painters AND iconoclasts. Although he is considered a founder and leading light of the “Ash Can” school of painting, it is a term and categorization that he disliked. Loughery’s biography is almost a twin study-that of its avowed subject and the New York City that he called home for decades. This now-vanished world was peopled by an inspiring cast of real-life eccentrics (Robert Henri, John Butler Yeats, Sloan’s wife Dolly). The result? It almost reads like a novel.
  • Motivation: I’m such a sucker for a good biography, even (especially?) someone I have never heard of or know little about.
  • Times Read: 2
  • Random Excerpt/Page 273: “He wanted no budding academic painters in his class, but neither was he sparing of those students who didn’t worry about technique because of some natural facility. Facility struck him as dangerous. Anything that mattered should come hard, should require thought and labor. To one student whose drawings seemed effortless, Sloan suggested that he use his left hand or, failing that, his feet. Resist anything that comes too easily, he warned. Resist an empty show.”
  • Happiness Scale: 9
    Yeats at Petitpas (1910) by John French Sloan ...

    Yeats at Petitpas (1910) by John French Sloan oil on canvas, Corcoran Gallery of Art (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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