By the Sea, By the Sea: Waterscapes and Beach Scenes

By William J. Glackens and the Ashcan School

On view August 28, 2022 through Fall 2023

William J. Glackens, Cape Cod Pier, 1908. Oil on canvas. NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale; gift of an anonymous donor.

By the Sea, By the Sea will draw from the Museum’s vast collection of masterful seascapes by William J. Glackens and members of the artist’s milieu, created in the late 19th and early 20th century. These paintings, photographs, prints and sketches portray unfettered, modern visions of leisure and labor by the waterfront.

Key works within this show include Glackens’ charming portrayal of women approaching the placid sea in his post-Impressionist masterpiece Cape Cod Pier (1908), along with his painting of New York’s maritime industrial progress, Tugboat and Lighter (1904-1905). Also included are his humorous series of crowded beaches that reflect the growing allure of the seaside as an escape from the urban density of the industrial age. This exhibition will premier a selection of the Sansom Foundation’s  donation of hundreds of archival materials to the Museum. This archive includes never-before seen family photographs, along with en plein air sketches which were later used as reference images to compose the artist’s virtuosic paintings. These ephemeral records provide us with insight into Glackens’ surroundings and frame of mind at the time he created these artworks.

William Glackens (b. 1870, Philadelphia, PA; d. 1938, Westport, CT) was an original member of the turn-of-the-century artists’ group, The Ashcan School, alongside contemporaries including Robert Henri (1965-1929), George Luks (1866-1933), Everett Shinn (1976-1953) and John Sloan (1871-1951). Born in Philadelphia, Glackens attended Central High School along with Sloan and the collector Albert C. Barnes. In 1891 he began a career as an artist-reporter for various Philadelphia newspapers and in the evenings, attended classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. In 1898 he accompanied the U.S. Army to Cuba to record the Spanish-American War for McClure’s magazine. In 1904, he would give up illustration in order to fully devote himself to painting. Glackens lived for some time in France, where he became influenced by the work of Impressionist artists such as Renoir, Matisse and Cézanne. Nevertheless, he continued his involvement in the New York art world and his friendship with other artists associated with The Ashcan School until his death in 1938.

NSU Art Museum is home to the William J. Glackens Research Collection and Study Center, which holds the largest collection in the world of artworks and archival materials related to Glackens.