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Robert Henri Robert Henry Cozad

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Robert Henri

American, (6/24/1865–7/12/1929)
Robert Henri (1865-1929) was born Robert Henry Cozad but changed his name after his father killed a man in self defense during a dispute between ranchers in Nebraska when the boy was just eighteen. Pronounced "Hen-rye," it was as if in one action he was both saluting his French heritage and proclaiming his American citizenship. He moved to Philadelphia and later New York where he became a charismatic painter, teacher, and ardent spokesperson for artistic independence in an era when tradition dominated the art market. He was the leader of "The Eight," an association of artists seeking artistic freedom, and of the Ashcan School named for their interest in painting New York's working class neighborhoods in the lower East Side. To demonstrate his influence, the book Henri wrote in 1923 titled The Art Spirit is still used by art students today.
Henri's Dutch Fisherman shows the painter's fresh and vigorous brushwork. The eyes are given the most detail but the remainder of the face is worked in brusque, almost raw, strokes of color while the figure and background are very broadly sketched in so as not to distract from the portrait. Henri encouraged his students to work quickly to capture their subjects in the immediacy of the moment which, in the end result, revealed more of their nature than a belabored image might.

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