George Luks, c.1908 by Gertrude Käsebier. Delaware Art Museum
George Luks
Date: American painter and graphic artist, 1867–1933
School: Ashcan School
Biography: George Luks was an American realist painter, best known for his images of New York and its inhabitants. Born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Luks worked as a vaudeville performer before moving to Philadelphia to study art at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He traveled through Europe, where he attended several art schools and developed a particular admiration for Velazquez, Frans Hals, and Manet. In 1893 he returned to Philadelphia, taking a job as a newspaper illustrator at the Philadelphia Press. He befriended Everett Shinn, William Glackens, John Sloan, and Robert Henri. In 1896 Luks moved to New York and began to work as an illustrator for Joseph Pulitzer's New York World. He drew the comic strip Hogan's Alley. He continued to paint, often depicting the streets and denizens of the Lower East Side, subjects which gained him little favor with art critics and jurors steeped in the genteel tradition. He painted thickly, often laying his paint on the canvas with a palette knife. In 1907, the rejection of one of his canvasses from a juried exhibition at the National Academy of Design spurred the organization of a protest exhibition the following year at Macbeth Gallery. This watershed exhibition would become known as the exhibition of the Eight for the eight painters who collaborated to put it together. Known for his big personality and love of liquor, Luks was a vocal proponent of American painting in the early 20th century.