Robert Henri

Robert Henri

Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio, USA
Death 12 Jul 1929 (aged 64)
Manhattan, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Burial Providence, Providence County, Rhode Island, USA
Memorial ID 64241187 · View Source
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Artist. He is remembered for being one of “The Eight,” a group of 20th century artists who held a show in January 1908 at the MacBeth's Gallery in New York City. Deviating from the tradition thought of art, this group consisted of their leader and art instructor, Henri, and other realistic artists: John French Sloan, William Glackens, Maurice Pendergast, Ernest Lawson, Everett Shinn, George Bellows, and Arthur Davies. Although these men differed in their styles, all were “united in their advocacy of exhibition opportunities free from the jury system as their belief in content and painting techniques that were not necessarily sanctioned by the conservative National Academy of Design.” The Ashcan School of Art evolved from “The Eight”. This school was interested in capturing the modern imaging of the working-class New Yorkers in paintings of bright, rich colors. At that time, many thought this subject was vulgar, inappropriate and undesirable. From 1884 to 1888, he studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia; later he was an art instructor at this school teaching several members of “The Eight.” He was also a student at the Academy of Julian and Ecole Des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France. Upon returning to the United States in 1892, he became an instructor at the School of Design for Women in Philadelphia. From 1898 to 1900 he was again in France and exhibited at the prestigious Paris Salon. He returned to New York City to teach at the New York School of Art and organized numerous exhibitions that featured the urban realist scenes of the working-class New Yorkers. Although he was elected in 1906 to the National Academy of Design, Henri became enraged when the following year, the works of his realist colleagues, such as Sloan and Luks, were being rejected by the Academy, thus unable to have showings to have an income. This group of artist needed representation and as an act of protest, “The Eight” held their own show in 1908. The same year he married Marjorie Organ, a twenty-two-year Irish immigrant. In 1910 he organized the “Exhibition of Independent Artist” in New York City. Since Arthur Davies was of the President of the American Association of Arts and Sculpture, Henri had an exhibition at the month-long 1913 Armory Show in New York City. From 1915 to 1928, along with Sloan, Luks and other from “The Eight”, he taught at the Art Students League in New York City. He was instrumental in coercing young American artist from the academic eclecticism of the past toward an acceptance of the rich, real life of the modern city as the proper subject of art. His 1923 book, “The Art Spirit,” reflects his knowledge and love of life in art and has become a staple reference book still in print for today's artists. He was a prolific artist producing dozens of paintings, especially as a portrait painter capturing the facial expressions of each subject including the rich and poor, the old and young, the professional and the laborer and in 1913 his own portrait called “Himself”. He painted portraits of members of “The Eight.” His full-length portrait of George Luks is on display at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, and his portrait of John French Sloan is at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D. C.; both were painted in 1904. Born Robert Henry Cozad, he was the son of a real estate developer who took chances; his developed two cities, Cozaddale, Ohio and Cozan, Nebraska. After an incident in 1882 when his father shot and killed in self-defense a local well-known rancher, the family each changed their surnames and fled an angry community to Colorado, New York and finally New Jersey. That is when he became “Robert Henri”; not “Henry” but pronounced “hen-rye.” He is a distant cousin of artist, Mary Cassatt. Henri traveled several times to Santa Fe, New Mexico and Ireland to paint. At his suggestion, Bellows and Sloan also came to Santa Fe to paint. In the fall of 1928 after returning from Ireland, he had pain in his leg and began to have a crippling gait. After being hospitalized for months, he died of prostate cancer with metastasis to the bone in his leg. He was honored with a memorial exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1931. Besides, being a respected artist, he had the reputation of being a vivacious and passionate art teacher, teaching some of the great artists of the 20th Century.

Bio by: Linda Davis

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: NWO
  • Added: 15 Jan 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 64241187
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Robert Henri (24 Jun 1865–12 Jul 1929), Find A Grave Memorial no. 64241187, citing Swan Point Cemetery, Providence, Providence County, Rhode Island, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .