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Turning Out the Light, from New York City Life by John Sloan - 1905

Turning Out the Light, from New York City Life by John Sloan - 1905

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Turning Out the Light, from New York City Life by John Sloan - 1905.

In his late teens, John Sloan worked for a Philadelphia print dealer and bookseller and taught himself to etch by reading a handbook that described the technique. Between 1891 and 1904, he made approximately one hundred etchings for a publisher of calendars, illustrated books, and novelty items. After taking classes with Ash Can School painter Robert Henri, a proponent of realistic depictions of everyday life, Sloan applied these lessons to his printmaking when he embarked on the series New York City Life in 1905–06. Despite critical acclaim for the ten etchings in this series, the public found them too risqué, and Sloan initially exhibited and sold few of them. One of these prints, Turning Out the Light, is an example of the sort of innuendo that some viewers found objectionable. However, in choosing ordinary people for his subjects, Sloan was following the example of artists he admired, including Goya, Dürer, Rembrandt, and Hogarth, as well as contemporary illustrators. In fact, a humanitarian outlook informed much of his art, and part of the appeal of printmaking for him was that it made art more affordable and accessible. As art editor for the Socialist magazine The New Masses from 1910 to 1914, he also published many political and satirical drawings. - MOMA

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