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Robert Henri (1865–1929) (Fig. 1) is best known as the leader of a rebellious group of artists working in New York City in the early twentieth century who came to be known as the Ashcan School, and as an important teacher who influenced the careers of an entire generation of American artists. He and his colleagues—a group that included George Luks, Maurice Prendergast, Everett Shinn, and John Sloan—championed artistic freedom from the day’s academic standards. They painted scenes from contemporary life in highly personal styles that eschewed the constraints of the popular preference for tightly detailed, highly finished works of art. Yet despite his enthusiastic support for these ideas, Henri himself painted relatively few scenes of urban life.
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