What is the difference between the Gilded Age and the Ashcan School?

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Art of the Gilded Age and the Ashcan School arose in the United States in the same time period, roughly during the 1880s to the 1920s. The subject matter of the two movements was diametrically opposed, but the two movements were at the same time yoked because they both emerged...

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Art of the Gilded Age and the Ashcan School arose in the United States in the same time period, roughly during the 1880s to the 1920s. The subject matter of the two movements was diametrically opposed, but the two movements were at the same time yoked because they both emerged from the extreme income inequality of the period.

Gilded Age art included lush, beautiful, and mannered portraits of the very wealthy, painted to hang in great homes. The most famous Gilded Age portrait artists were John Singer Sargent and James Whistler.

The wealthy lives the Gilded Age artists depicted came at the expense of other segments of society.The Ashcan School recorded the seedier existence of those exploited by the unequal economic system and focused on realistic scenes of immigrants and urban poverty. These artists rebelled against genteel traditions in favor of recording a gritty life they felt the fine arts often ignored. 

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The Gilded Age takes its name from a Mark Twain novel published in 1873 called The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today.  A "golden age" is, typically, an era in which great advancements are made, and mankind's best qualities, including morals, are at their peak.  Gilding, the practice of covering inferior material with a thin layer of gold leaf, implies a false, deceptive facade.  Twain recognized the failures of the Reconstruction period when the divide between the wealthy and poor grew substantially.  He saw that despite the outward appearance of affluence, the country was in trouble and that relatively few were prospering while others suffered.

The "Ashcan School" takes its name from a 1915 George Bellows drawing entitled "Disappointments of the Ash Can" and encompasses a small group of American realist artists who focused on the details of urban life in New York City. Their nominal leader was Robert Henri, and he and artists William Glackens, George Luks, Everett Shinn, John Sloan, and Bellows, some of whom had been newspaper illustrators, sought to unsentimentally record urban lives, including those of the lower classes. Their movement was, in part, opposition to the popular Impressionistic style and subject matter of the time.

What the two periods have in common in American cultural history is a shared commitment to realism.

 

 

 

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The Ashcan School was an artistic movement in the United States that began in the early 1900s. The movement focused on New York City's daily life, specifically their poorer neighborhoods. The Ashcan School was largely a painting movement, and some of its popular figures included William Glackens, John Sloan and Robert Henri. 

The Gilded Age, on the other hand, is a time period that lasted from the 1870s to 1900. It is a term coined by Mark Twain, and it describes an era of severe social problems covered up by a golden lining. During this time period, the North and West of America experienced rapid economic growth. American wages were higher than European wages, but the social problems within the United States were severe.

The Gilded Age occurred before the Ashcan School came about, but the Ashcan School grew out of the artistic sensibilities that were established during The Gilded Age. 

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