The Butterfly and the Ashcan: The Impact of Whistler on The Eight and Their Circle

On Thursday, May 4, at 6:30pm, the Museum of the City of New York will host a talk with historian Avis Berman on the impact of James McNeill Whistler on the artists of The Eight and their circle. The event is free but pre-registration is required. To register and for more information, please see the museum website.

Most of the artists comprising The Eight – William Glackens, Robert Henri, Ernest Lawson, Maurice Prendergast, Everett Shinn, and John Sloan – were influenced by the nineteenth-century American artist James McNeill Whistler, as were their close friends Alfred Maurer and George Bellows. Whistler was an extraordinarily prominent artist, so positing him as an inspiration may seem obvious. However, these painters – advocates of urban realism and members of what is known as the Ashcan School – are often presented as countering the aesthetic approach epitomized by Whistler. In truth, they were admirers and emulators rather than denigrators. Whistler’s life and work were essential to them, as Avis Berman, noted writer and art historian, will illustrate using comparative examples of paintings and works on paper.