Friday, May 4, 2012

William Glackens - Museum of Art | Fort Lauderdale

William Glackens Family Group, 1910/1911 Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Ira Glackens

William J. Glackens (1870-1938) and his older brother, Louis M.Glackens (1866–1933), were born in Philadelphia into a lower middle class family headed by parents Samuel and Elizabeth Glackens. Both siblings attended Central High School, followed by brief enrollment in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. According to family records, the Glackens boys began drawing at an early age and, while still in high school, collaborated on carefully illustrating a homemade dictionary. As they grew older, the personal lives and careers of William and Lou (as he was affectionately called) diverged. Professionally, the former followed a dual career path by becoming a highly successful illustrator for newspapers and magazines as well as a renowned painter whose artistic sojourn took him from stark urban Realism to Renoir-esque Impressionism.

William Glackens, The Soda Fountain (1905)

William Glackens, Italo-American Celebration, Washington Square (1912)

William Glackens, March Day, Washington Park (date unknown)

By comparison, the latter’s achievements were more modest. First and foremost, Lou became a proficient cartoonist for Puck, a popular New York-based weekly satirical publication, followed by a brief stint in Hollywood drawing comics during the early years of the motion picture industry. The brothers also pursued contrasting lifestyles at home. William happily married an heiress with whom he had two children, lived mostly in well-appointed homes and apartments, and regularly vacationed in Europe. Louis, on the other hand, remained single, childless, and continued to reside in his parent’s Philadelphia home, living a life centered on his brother’s progeny.

William Glackens as Illustrator

William Glackens began drawing while still in high school and by age 21 had become an artist-reporter, working at a succession of local newspapers - the Philadelphia Record, Philadelphia Press, and the Philadelphia Public Ledger. Blessed with a photographic memory and remarkable dexterity, he became an expert at capturing crowd scenes and unexpected disasters.

William's graphic work was both varied and multi-purpose. He was equally adept in charcoal, pen-and-ink, watercolor, and etching. His crowd scenes are never monolithic, but an assemblage of very personal vignettes. By 1919, his career as an illustrator came to a sudden halt, which was due mostly to the advancements made in the field of photography.

The Eight

Along with fellow painters Robert Henri, Everett Shinn, Ernest Lawson, Maurice Prendergast, Arthur B. Davies, John Sloan and George Luks, William Glackens sought to change the face of American art in the first decade of the twentieth century. Those eight artists wanted to paint life the way it was being lived, and in their pursuit of that goal they brought a grittiness to American art that had, until then, been dominated by the society portraits of John Singer Sargent and the picturesque coastal scenes of Winslow Homer.

Museum of Art | Fort Lauderdale

When Ira Glackens, son of American impressionist William Glackens, died in 1991, he left his substantial collection of works by his father to the Museum of Art | Fort Lauderdale.

The original donation included more than two hundred works in a variety of media, later supplemented by another 300 works given by the Sansom Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by Ira and Nancy Glackens in the 1950s to oversee their art interests.

The Glackens Collection ranges from the artist’s earliest known painting (Philadelphia Landscape, from 1893) to his last completed canvas (White Rose and Other Flowers, from 1937). The collection also includes works by such contemporaries of William Glackens as Maurice Prendergast, Ernest Lawson, and John Sloan.

In 2001, the Museum opened a 10,000-square-foot wing that is home to the collection.