Ashcan nudes

Many of WR Watkins’ paintings from the 1920s seem rather grim and downbeat despite that decade’s reputation as roaring. Watkins was a colorist, so this choice of somber palette sends a signal.

WR Watkins nude with shadow c.1920sWR Watkins sitting nude c.1920sWR Watkins standing nude c.1920sWR Watkins standing nude 1920s

WR Watkins sitting nude 1920sWR Watkins sitting nude 1920sWR Watkins sitting nude c.1920s

The twenties were divided between a surface prosperity and social realism, between Art Deco and the Ashcan School. In an earlier post we showed how WR Watkins and Leon Kroll crossed paths at the Maryland Institute, where both taught. (Kroll was a member of the Ashcan School through George Bellows.)

Begun in 1891 by Robert Henri and continuing through the 1930s, the Ashcan School produced “realistic and un-enhanced portraits of everyday life and common people.” Breaking with the techniques taught in early twentieth-century academies, they embraced a rapid, loose and spontaneous brushstroke and a dark, muted palette.

Unenhanced, loose and muted — three words that sum up these period Watkins paintings for us.

Posted Monday, November 23rd, 2009 under WR Watkins, history, influences.


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