A member of the Ashcan School, John Sloan
(1871–1951) focused his paintings and prints on his favorite
subject: the “drab, shabby, happy, sad, and human life”
of a city and its people during the early 20th century. His images
of pedestrians and public places helped define New York City in the
popular imagination. Sloan was also an able landscapist and portraitist.
John Sloan was born in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania.
When he was 5 years old, his family moved to Philadelphia. To help
support them, Sloan dropped out of high school and taught himself
etching. Eventually he acquired enough skill at drawing and lettering
to become a free-lance artist.
In 1892 he joined the staff of the Philadelphia
Inquirer as an "illustrator,” a popular job for aspiring young
artists in the 1890s. Sloan became acquainted with such artists as
William Glackens, George Luks, Everett Shinn, James Preston and George
Fox, all of whom worked at one time or another at the Philadelphia
Press, where Sloan worked from 1895 to 1903.
In 1904 Sloan moved to New York, and in 1906 he
exhibited at the American Watercolor Society. As a founding member
of the group of artists known as The Eight, he exhibited with them
at the Macbeth Galleries in 1908. In 1910, along with other artists
in the circle of Robert Henri, Sloan participated in the Exhibition
of Independent Artists.
Sloan became a member of the editorial board of
the radical journal The Masses in 1912 and also began teaching art
privately. In 1916 he joined the faculty of the Art Students League.
Ill health forced him to stop painting in 1938, but by 1945 he had
recovered and began working again. At the time of his death in 1951,
plans were under way for a retrospective exhibition of his work at
the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.