born June 25, 1865, Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
died July 12, 1929, New York, New York
Urban realist painter, a leader of The Eight and the Ashcan School and one of the most influential teachers of art in the United States at the
beginning of the 20th century.
Henri studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia,
from 1884 to 1888, and at both the Académie Julian and the École des
Beaux-Arts in Paris. Upon returning to the United States in 1892, he
became an instructor at the School of Design for Women in Philadelphia.
His vigorous ideas attracted a group of young illustrators from the
Philadelphia press: John Sloan, Everett Shinn, George Luks, and William J.
Glackens. From 1898 to 1900 he was again in Paris and exhibited at the
Salon. He then settled in New York City, where he taught at the New York
School of Art and organized numerous exhibitions that featured urban
realist scenes. Although elected in 1906 to the National Academy of
Design, Henri became enraged when, the following year, the works of his
realist colleagues were rejected. In 1908 he joined forces with seven
other artists (including Sloan, Shinn, Luks, and Glackens)—dubbed “The
Eight”—and mounted a single, joint exhibition before being absorbed into
the larger Ashcan School. Henri also exhibited at the 1913 Armory Show.
During an extremely active life as an artist, Henri exercised considerable
influence as a portrait painter. A painting such as Himself (1913) reveals
his facile brushwork, lively palette, and ability to catch fleeting
gestures and expressions. He also wielded influence as a teacher. From
1915 to 1928 Henri taught at the Art Students League in New York. During
this period he was instrumental in turning young American painters away
from academic eclecticism toward an acceptance of the rich, real life of
the modern city as the proper subject of art. Henri's book, The Art Spirit
(1923), embodying his conception of art as an expression of love for life,
continues to be popular among artists and art students.