The term "Ashcan School" was used to describe what was probably the first real American art movement in the early 20th century. The artists who comprised the "Ashcan School" rebelled against the influence
of French Impressionist
style as well as landscapes, storybook illustrations and academic nudes that were prevalent
during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They were heavily influenced by the works and styles of Hals
The original artists of the Ashcan School started in Philadelphia and consisted of Robert Henri, George Luks, William Glackens, Everett Shinn and John Sloan. After they moved to New York City, they were joined by Ernest Lawson, Arthur B. Davies and Maurice Prendegast.
The Ashcan artists felt compelled to paint urban America as it really was. Robert Henri stated that their purpose was to find beauty in what would appear to be drab or ugly. They often used somber colors in their paintings and their realistic depictions of of urban backyards, bedrooms, theaters, parks, dance halls and saloons led to them being labled the "Apostles of Ugliness". The group also had a distain for the academia ideals of the day. This led to a conflict with the National Academy of Design. In 1908, the group put on a oppostional show of their independent works at the Macbeth Gallery and New York which turned out to be a complete success.
The group moved on to the 1913 Armory Show which has been widely credited with bringing Modern Art to America. Unfortunately, their work was not well received. To quote William Glackens, a member of the Ashcan School, "I am afraid that the American section of this exhibition will seem tame beside the foreign section."
In today's market, the Ashcan artists are regaining a measure of popularity. Their works often command figures in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and occassionally will top the million dollar mark.
Kudo's to user asterphage for reminding me to include Stuart Davis as a member of the Ashcan School.