Ashcan Inspiration—a Closer Look at:
Stag at Sharkey’s, Skating in Central Park, and New York
If the goal was to shift the focus from the individual to the event, as an artist, how would one conceptualize this manifestation? In answering this question, one can look to the artists of the Ashcan School, who chose to render their works in a loose and very dynamic fashion. In the early twentieth century, this particular school of artists turned away from painting the traditional rural scenes and upper-class people which were often the subject of most American painters. Instead, the Ashcan School artists looked to the changing world around them, drawing much inspiration from the vast numbers of immigrants who were immigrating into the United States from southern and eastern Europe.
The Ashcan School artists took great interest in the quickly growing immigrant neighborhoods and their poor and working-class population living in those very neighborhoods. By using blocks of color with little tonal range as well as a color scheme that was reflective of its environment, such as “cool colors” and “earth tones,” the focus of the Ashcan School artist became the event as opposed to the individual. The paintings of the Ashcan School capture all which may have been present in the artist’s actual environment rather than just focusing on the detail in each individual item. In doing this, the object, person, place, and thing, becomes irrelevant, and thus, the event itself becomes the primary focus. Upon having explored part of the collection of the Ashcan School of art, I have chosen to focus on and discuss the following works: Stag at Sharkey’s, Skating in Central Park, and New York.
Stag at Sharkey’s (1909) is but one work on which I chose to focus. In this particular work, two men are depicted boxing in a ring among a crowd of dimly lit on-lookers. These two ambiguous gladiators are in the heat of battle, with both men pushing forward, as if the other was an...