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on Aug 14, 2017 in | Comments Off on George Benjamin Luks

(Click to Enlarge)
Watercolor on Paper
9 1/8 x 12 1/2 inches
15 3/8 x 18 5/8 inches contemporary framed
Signed George Luks lower right and To Harley Perkins Boston – Aug 1923 lower left
Minor vertical upper tear center edge
Similar to Seated Nude with Bobbed Hair pictured here for teference only. A gift by Luks to Harley Manlius Perkins (1883 – 1963), a modernist painter in The Boston Five. In a lesser-known chapter of his life, Luks painted more than a dozen oils and watercolors during an extended visit to Boston in 1922 and 1923. Last origin Boston, MA.

George Benjamin Luks (1867 – 1933)

George Luks was by most accounts a vibrant, energetic and unapologetically honest personality. He would throughout his career translate this to his works which are perhaps best known for their portrayal of the less genteel sides of life, capturing the true character of average Americans during the turn of the century.

Luks was born in 1867 in the city of Williamsport, Pennsylvania. In 1884 he began studies at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts under Thomas Anshutz. By 1889 he found himself at the Staatiche Kunstakademie in Dusseldorf but the structured class agendas ultimately did not suit him and he would travel to Paris and London in 1889 and 1890 to study the art there independently. He returned to the United States in 1894 and in 1895 he secured work creating illustrations, comic strips and caricatures for the Philadelphia Press and the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin. In Philadelphia he would align himself with what was known as the Eight, a group of artists who focused on realistic portrayals of the darker and coarser side of American life. Because of the subject matter and the dark tonalities of the art, this group was popularly known as the Ashcan School.

He would continue throughout this time to work as a newspaper illustrator and in 1896 the Evening Bulletin would send him to Cuba as a war correspondent during the Spanish-American War. Later that same year he would move to New York and find employment as the foremost humorist for the New York World. In the meantime, however, Luks’ painting skills were being rapidly honed and improved. He focused his painting on portraits of poorer and working class professionals such as shopkeepers, peddlers and street urchins. In addition to the portraits he would also sporadically capture common urban scenes of the streets and docks of New York. In 1908 he exhibited with the Eight at the Macbeth Gallery of New York where the group’s dark and realistic portrayals created some controversy with the art establishment of the time. Ironically perhaps, by the time Luks exhibited at the Armory Show in 1913, his formerly radical subject matter and style were overshadowed by the developing abstract movement. Luks would teach at the Art Students League in New York from 1920 to 1924 and go on to establish the George Luks School of Painting in New York. He died in New York City in 1933.

Collections Include:
Brooklyn Museum, New York
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco, California
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, Indiana
Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California
New Britain Museum of American Art, Connecticut
North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, North Carolina
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, New Jersey
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts
Asheville Art Museum, Asheville, North Carolina

1867 – George Benjamin Luks is born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania
1883 – Moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1884 – Began studies at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts
1885 – Traveled to Europe where he studied at the Dusseldorf Academy in Germany
1894 – Returned to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1895 – Began work as an illustrator for the Philadelphia Press and Philadelphia Evening Bulletin
1896 – War correspondent for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, Spanish-American War
1908 – First exhibition with the Eight at the Macbeth Gallery, New York
1913 – Exhibition at the Armory Show
1920 – 1924 – Taught at the Art Students League, New York
1933 – Dies in New York, New York

Source: International Art Acquisitions, Inc.

George Luks, a realist painter associated with Robert Henri and the Ashcan school, chose the crowded streets of New York City, and the urban and rural poor as his subjects. He is noted for his broadly-brushed paintings of miners, elderly women, immigrant children, and wrestlers. In a lesser-known chapter of his life, Luks painted more than a dozen oils and watercolors during an extended visit to Boston in 1922 and 1923. He was the guest of a former student, Margarett Sargent McKean, a cousin of John Singer Sargent and an aspiring artist. Margarett Sargent had been an apprentice of sculptor Gutzon Borglum in 1917, when she met Luks and began to study painting with him. By the late 1920s, she was painting strikingly modernist oils and began to exhibit her work at Kraushaar Galleries in New York.

In 1922 Luks, fresh from a sanitarium where he was recovering from a bout with alcohol and recently divorced from his second wife, visited Sargent. By this time she was married to Quincy Adams Shaw McKean, a private banker in Boston. She later recalled that Luks had come to visit her for a weekend, but had stayed for almost a year. Not only did McKean provide living quarters for Luks, she also allowed him the use of her studio at 30 St. Botolph Street and organized an exhibition of his work in her summer home in Beverly, Massachusetts.

McKean remembered that Luks disdained the Boston painters who remained in their prim studios painting hired nude models. He exclaimed, “Why didn’t they look at Beacon Hill, Commonwealth Avenue, the Swan Boats, fruit vendors on Charles Street, the squalor of St. Botolph Street and the vigorous L. Street Brownies?” (Margarett Sargent McKean, “George Luks,” Boston: Joan Peterson Gallery, 1966, brochure in MFA American paintings files). Luks threw himself into painting these subjects in Boston (see 60.538 and 1979.263). In “Noontime, St. Botolph Street, Boston,” he depicted the scene outside Margarett’s studio…

Source: Museum of Fine Arts Boston