Art Students League of New York

New York, NY



The Artist as Subject

Flight Over Brooklyn, a 1997 oil painting (above) by Harvey Dinnerstein, is one of forty self-portraits by past and present artists affiliated with the Art Students League of New York which were on view there through October 23, 1998


Leading up to its 125th anniversary in the year 2000, the Art Students League of New York will launch a series of exhibitions and programs celebrating its illustrious history. The opening event, a show of self-portraits by League artists past and present, was on view on October 7 - 23, 1998 in the school's newly - renovated second-floor gallery at 215 West 57th Street.

The Artist as Subject looks back to the school's earlier days with images of self-examination by such notables as Thomas Hart Benton, Raphael Soyer and Isabel Bishop. In one of the prints displayed, John Sloan portrayed himself with his life-long friend Robert Henri and their wives. Both men exerted great influence as teachers at the League. Richard Pousette - Dart recorded his likeness at mid-life with a camera. Right: Daniel J. Dickerson,Self Portrait, 1998, mixed media, 14 3/4 x 11 3/4 inchers, collection of Mrs. Joyce Caruso

Contemporary League instructors represented in the exhibition include Harvey Dinnerstein as well as Nelson Shanks, whose recent portrait commissions include Margaret Thatcher and the last official portrait of Princess Diana. Reflecting the range of media and styles taught by the League's 70 instructors, the display includes sculpture, drawings, paintings and prints.

Self - portraits offer distinct advantages and challenges to the artist. As League instructor Mary Beth McKenzie notes, "The tendency is to stay right on top of the painting, never getting any perspective on it. You have to allow a model to take a break, but with yourself it's easy to continue painting long after you can see what you are doing. On the other hand, you allow yourself to take chances more freely because the model will always be available." Ms. McKenzie contributed two self-portraits to the exhibition. Left: Mary Beth McKenzie, Self Portrait, Yellow Background, 1996, oil on canvas, collection of Joan Mister

The Art Students League of New York, founded in 1875, boasts an alumni list that is a veritable Who's Who in American art, from Winslow Homer and Georgia O'Keeffe to Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and Louise Nevelson. It currently enrolls approximately 2,200 students from around the world who sign up for month-long, studio-based courses that meet seven days a week, morning, afternoon and evening. Based on the atelier system of nineteenth-century France, the curriculum respects the individual views and methods of each instructor. As a part of its offerings, the League sponsors exhibitions, panel discussions and lectures, which are free and open to the public.

The Artist as Subject features selections from the League's own permanent collection of art, as well as private collections. The Sylvan Cole Gallery and the Kraushaar Galleries also contributed works for the installation. Gallery hours are Mon. - Fri. 9 AM - 8:30 PM; Sat. 9 AM - 4 PM; Sun. 12:30 - 4 PM.

Founded by and for artists, the Art Students League thrives after I24 years. Since 1875 the Art Students League of New York has been a vital, energetic school for artists and has maintained a commitment to nurturing creativity. Many well-known and influential artists have taught or studied at the League. Some of them are Romare Bearden, Thomas Hart Benton, Isabel Bishop, Alexander Calder, George Grosz, Hans Hofmann, Roy Lichtenstein, Paul Manship, Reginald Marsh, Louise Nevelson, Georgia O'Keeffe, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, John Sloan, and William Zorach.

Early League instructors included William Merritt Chase, Kenyon Cox, Thomas W. Dewing, Arthur Wesley Dow, Frank Duveneck, Thomas Eakins, Daniel Chester French, Childe Hassam, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, John H.Twachtman, and J. Alden Weir.

The vitality continues today. Seventy-five instructors, with distinguished careers as artists, teach approximately 2,500 students on an individual basis in atelier classes. With life models in many classes, the League offers drawing, painting, printmaking, and sculpture (both modeling and direct carving). Instructors develop their own methods and students choose a range of modes from realism to abstraction.

The League also presents films, panel discussions, lectures, and talks by noted artists, gallery owners, technical experts, critics, and scholars. Most of these events are free and all are open to the public. Students may register in any class they choose, class size permitting. Morning, afternoon, evening, and weekend courses are offered monthly, with sessions for children, teens, and adults. There are no entrance requirements. For more information, write or phone the League for a free, illustrated cataogue.

Read more about the Art Students League of New York in Resource Library Magazine.

For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 9/20/10

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