John Sloan was the leader of the Ash Can school artists who painted scenes of everyday life in the city. At the age of five his family moved to Germantown, then a suburb of Philadeiphia, and then to Philadelphia itself In 1890 he attended evening classes in drawing at the Spring Garden Institute and established himself as a graphic artist and illustrator. Beginning in 1892 he studied for two years at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts under Thomas Anshutz (1851-1912). His association with ROBERT HENRI also began at this time. He rapidly achieved success as a poster designer and illustrator for Philadelphia newspapers and books. Sloan exhibited his paintings for the first time in 1900. He made his permanent home in New York in 1904, and during the next decade painted the scenes of New York street life for which he is best known. In 1908 he exhibited at Macbeth Gallery as a member of the progressive group called The Eight. He had his first solo exhibition in 1916, and teaching replaced illustrating as his primary source of regular income. From 1914 to 1918 he summered in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and almost every year thereafter in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His first retrospective exhibition was held in 1938, at the Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts.
Sloan had a long and notable career as a teacher, beginning in 1907 as an instructor at the Pittsburgh Art Students League. His most important tenure was at the Art Students League in New York, where he taught from 1916 to 1938. He also taught at the Maryland Institute in Baltimore during 1923, at Alexander Archipenko’s L’Ecole d’Art in New York in 1932, and at George Luks’s New York school from 1933 to 1935. In 1939 his ideas on teaching were published as The Gist of Art. Sloan was also active in artists’ organizations: he was an original member of the Whitney Studio Club and was president of the Society of Independent Artists from 1918 until his death.
Wilmington, Delaware Art Museum, John Sloan Archives § Lloyd Goodrich, John Sloan (New York: Macmillan for the Whitney Museum of American Art, 1952), with research by Rosalind Irvine, bibliography § Van Wyck Brooks, John Sloan: A Painter’s Life (New York: Dutton, 1955) § John Sloan’s New York Scene: From the Diaries, Notes, and Correspondence, 1906-1913, ed. Bruce St. John (New York: Harper & Row, 1965), with introduction and notes by Helen Farr Sloan, chronology § Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, and others, John Sloan, 1871-1951, exh. cat., 1971, with essays by David W. Scott and E. John Bullard, list of books illustrated by the artist, bibliography.