Art Students League of New York

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The Art Students League of New York is an art school at 215 West 57th Street in Manhattan, New York City, New York. The League has historically been known for its broad appeal to both amateurs and professional artists.

Although artists may study full-time, there have never been any degree programs or grades, and this informal attitude pervades the culture of the school. From the 19th century to the present, the League has counted among its attendees and instructors many historically important artists, and contributed to numerous influential schools and movements in the art world.

The League also maintains a significant permanent collection of student and faculty work, and publishes an online journal of writing on art-related topics, called LINEA. The journal's name refers to the school's motto Nulla Dies Sine Linea or "No Day Without a Line", traditionally attributed to the Greek painter Apelles by the historian Pliny the Elder, who recorded that Apelles would not let a day pass without at least drawing a line to practice his art.[1]


Founded in 1875, the League's creation came about in response to both an anticipated gap in the program of the National Academy of Design's program of classes for that year, and to longer-term desires for more variety and flexibility in education for artists. The breakaway group of students included many women, and was originally housed in rented rooms at 16th Street and Fifth Avenue.[2][3]

When the Academy resumed a more typical—but liberalized—program in 1877, there was some feeling that the League had served its purpose, but its students voted to continue its program, and it was incorporated the following year. Influential board members from this formative period included painter Thomas Eakins and sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Membership continued to increase, forcing the League to relocate to increasingly larger spaces.

The League participated in the founding of the American Fine Arts Society (AFAS) in 1889, together with the Society of American Artists and the Architectural League, among others. The American Fine Arts Building at 215 West 57th Street, constructed as their joint headquarters, has continued to house the League since 1892.[4] Designed in the French Renaissance style by one of the founders of the AFAS, architect Henry Hardenbergh (in collaboration with W.C. Hunting & J.C. Jacobsen), the building is a designated New York City Landmark[5] and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In the late 1890s and early 1900s an increasing number of women artists came to study and work at the League many of them taking on key roles. Among them were Wilhelmina Weber Furlong and her husband Thomas Furlong. The avant-garde couple served the league in executive and administrative roles and as student members throughout the American modernism movement.[6] Alice Van Vechten Brown, who would later develop some of the first art programs in American higher education, also studied with the league until prolonged family illness sent her home.[7]

The painter Edith Dimock, a student from 1895 to 1899, described her classes at the Art Students League:

In a room innocent of ventilation, the job was to draw Venus (just the head) and her colleagues. We were not allowed to hitch bodies to the heads——yet. The dead white plaster of Paris was a perfect inducer of eye-strain, and was called "The Antique." One was supposed to work from "The Antique" for two years. The advantage of "The Antique" was that all these gods and athletes were such excellent models: there never was the twitch of an iron-bound muscle. Venus never batted her hard-boiled egg eye, and the Discus-thrower never wearied. They were also cheap models and did not have to be paid union rates.[8]

In his official biography, My Adventures as an Illustrator, Norman Rockwell recounts his time studying at the school as a young man, providing insight into its operation in the early 1900s.

The League's popularity persisted into the 1920s and 1930s under the hand of instructors like painter Thomas Hart Benton, who counted among his students there the young Jackson Pollock and other avant-garde artists who would rise to prominence in the 1940s.

Between 1942 and 1943, many of the League's students joined the armed forces to fight in World War II, and the League's enrollment decreased from 1,000 to 400, putting it in danger of closing in mid-1943.[9] In response, five hundred artists donated $15,000, just enough to keep the League from closing.[10] In the years after World War II, the G.I. Bill played an important role in the continuing history of the League by enabling returning veterans to attend classes.[11] The League continued to be a formative influence on innovative artists, being an early stop in the careers of Abstract expressionists, Pop Artists and scores of others including Lee Bontecou, Helen Frankenthaler, Al Held, Eva Hesse, Roy Lichtenstein, Donald Judd, Knox Martin, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, Cy Twombly and many others vitally active in the art world.

In 1968, Lisa M. Specht was elected first female president of the League. The League's unique importance in the larger art world dwindled somewhat during the 1960s, partially because of higher academia's emergence as an important presence in contemporary art education, and partially due to a shift in the art world towards minimalism, photography, conceptual art, and a more impersonal and indirect approach to art making.

As of 2010, the League continues to attract a wide variety of young artists; and the focus on art made by hand, both figurative and abstract, remains strong; its continued significance has largely been in the continuation of its original mission – to give access to art classes and studio access to all comers, regardless of their means or technical background.[12][13]

Other facilities[edit]

From 1906 until 1922, and again after the end of World War II from 1947 until 1979, the League operated a summer school of painting at Woodstock, New York. In 1995, the League's facilities expanded to include the Vytlacil campus in Sparkill, New York, named after and based upon a gift of the property and studio of former instructor Vaclav Vytlacil.[14]

Notable instructors and lecturers[edit]

Since its inception, the Art Students League has employed notable professional artists as instructors and lecturers. Most engagements have been for a year or two, and some, like those of sculptor George Grey Barnard, were quite brief.

Others have taught for decades, notably: Frank DuMond and George Bridgman, who taught anatomy for artists and life drawing classes for some 45 years, reportedly to 70,000 students. Bridgman's successor was Robert Beverly Hale. Other longtime instructors included the painters Frank Mason (DuMond's successor, over 50 years), Kenneth Hayes Miller (40 years) from 1911 until 1951, sculptor Nathaniel Kaz (50 years), Peter Golfinopoulos (over 40 years), Knox Martin (over 45 years), Martha Bloom (30 years) and the sculptors William Zorach (30 years), and Jose De Creeft, Will Barnet (50 years) from the 1930s to the 1990s, and Bruce Dorfman (over 50 years).

Other well-known artists who have served as instructors include: Lawrence Alloway, Charles Alston, Will Barnet, Robert Beauchamp, George Bellows, Thomas Hart Benton, Isabel Bishop, Arnold Blanch, Louis Bouche, Robert Brackman, George Bridgman, Alexander Stirling Calder, Naomi Andrée Campbell, Robert Cenedella, [15]Jean Charlot, William Merritt Chase, Dionisio Cimarelli,[16] Timothy J. Clark, Walter Appleton Clark, Kenyon Cox, Jose De Creeft, John Steuart Curry, Stuart Davis, Edwin Dickinson, Sidney Dickinson, Frederick Dielman, Harvey Dinnerstein, Arthur Wesley Dow, Frank DuMond, Frank Duveneck, Thomas Eakins, Daniel Chester French, Dagmar Freuchen, Wilhelmina Weber Furlong, Michael Goldberg, Stephen Greene, George Grosz, Molly Guion,[17] Lena Gurr, Philip Guston, Robert Beverly Hale, Lovell Birge Harrison, Ernest Haskell, Childe Hassam, Robert Henri, Eva Hesse, Charles Hinman, Hans Hofmann, Harry Holtzman, Jamal Igle, Burt Johnson, Wolf Kahn, Morris Kantor, Rockwell Kent, Walt Kuhn, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Gabriel Laderman, Ronnie Landfield, Jacob Lawrence, Hayley Lever, Martin Lewis, George Luks, Paul Manship, Reginald Marsh, Fletcher Martin, Knox Martin, Jan Matulka, Earl Mayan, Mary Beth Mckenzie, William Charles McNulty, Willard Metcalf, Kenneth Hayes Miller, Fred Mitchell, F. Luis Mora, Robert Neffson, Kimon Nicolaïdes, Maxfield Parrish, Jules Pascin, Joseph Pennell, Richard C. Pionk, Larry Poons, Richard Pousette-Dart, Abraham Rattner, Peter Reginato, Frank J. Reilly, Henry Reuterdahl, Boardman Robinson, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Kikuo Saito, Nelson Shanks, William Scharf, Susan Louise Shatter, Walter Shirlaw, John Sloan, Hughie Lee-Smith, Isaac Soyer, Raphael Soyer, Theodoros Stamos, Anita Steckel, Harry Sternberg, Augustus Vincent Tack, George Tooker, John Henry Twachtman, Vaclav Vytlacil, Max Weber, J. Alden Weir, Jerry Weiss, and William Zorach.[18][19]

Notable alumni[edit]

The school's list of notable alumni includes: Pacita Abad, Harry N. Abrams,[20] Edwin Tappan Adney, Olga Albizu, Karin von Aroldingen, Ai Weiwei, Gladys Aller, William Anthony, Edmund Archer, Nela Arias-Misson, David Attie, Milton Avery, Elizabeth Gowdy Baker, Thomas R. Ball (a United States Congressman), Hugo Ballin, Will Barnet, Nancy Hemenway Barton, Saul Bass, C. C. Beall, Romare Bearden, Tony Bennett, Theresa Bernstein, Brother Thomas Bezanson, Thomas Hart Benton, Ilse Bischoff, Isabel Bishop, Dorothy Block, Leonard Bocour, Harriet Bogart, Abraham Bogdanove, Lee Bontecou, Henry Botkin, Louise Bourgeois, Harry Bowden, Stanley Boxer, Louise Brann, D. Putnam Brinley, James Brooks, Carmen L. Browne, Jennie Augusta Brownscombe, Edith Bry, Dennis Miller Bunker, Jacob Burck, Feliza Bursztyn, Theodore Earl Butler, Paul Cadmus, Alexander Calder, Chris Campbell, John F. Carlson, Kathrin Cawein, Paul Chalfin, Ching Ho Cheng, Minna Citron, Margaret Covey Chisholm, Walter Appleton Clark, Kate Freeman Clark, Henry Ives Cobb, Jr., Claudette Colbert, Willie Cole, John Connell, Russell Cowles, Allyn Cox, Ellis Credle, Richard V. Culter, Mel Cummin, Frederick Stuart Church, Joan Danziger, Andrew Dasburg, Charles C. Dawson, Adolf Dehn, Dorothy Dehner, Sidney Dickinson, Burgoyne Diller, Ellen Eagle, Marjorie Eaton, Sir Jacob Epstein, Marisol Escobar, Joe Eula, Philip Evergood, Peter Falk, Frances Farrand Dodge, Ernest Fiene, Irving Fierstein, Louis Finkelstein, Ethel Fisher, Wilhelmina Weber Furlong, Helen Frankenthaler, Hodé Frankl, Frederick Carl Frieseke, Wanda Gág, Dan Gheno, Charles Dana Gibson, William Glackens, Elias Goldberg, Michael Goldberg, Shirley Goldfarb, Peter Golfinopoulos, Adolph Gottlieb, Blanche Grambs, John D. Graham, Enrique Grau, Nancy Graves, Clement Greenberg, Stephen Greene, Red Grooms, Chaim Gross, Lena Gurr, Bessie Pease Gutmann, Minna Harkavy, Marsden Hartley, Julius Hatofsky, Ethel Hays, Gus Heinze, Al Held, Carmen Herrera, Eva Hesse, Al Hirschfeld, Itshak Holtz, Lorenzo Homar, Winslow Homer, Thomas Hoving, Paul Jenkins, Burt Johnson, Donald Judd, Joan Kahn,[21] Matsumi Kanemitsu, Alonzo Myron Kimball, Torleif S. Knaphus, Belle Kogan, Lee Krasner, Ronnie Landfield, Adelaide Lawson, Arthur Lee, Lucy L'Engle, Alfred Leslie, Roy Lichtenstein, Dorothy Loeb, Tom Loepp, Michael Loew, John Marin, Reginald Marsh, Knox Martin, Donald Martiny, Mercedes Matter, Louisa Matthiasdottir, Peter Max, John Alan Maxwell, Eleanore Mikus, Emil Milan, Lee Miller, David Milne, F. Luis Mora, Walter Tandy Murch, Reuben Nakian, Louise Nevelson, Barnett Newman, Isamu Noguchi, Sassona Norton, Georgia O'Keeffe, Mary Orwen, Roselle Osk, Tom Otterness, Betty Waldo Parish, Clara Weaver Parrish, Betty Parsons, David Partridge,[22] Phillip Pavia,[23] Roger Tory Peterson, Bert Geer Phillips, I. Rice Pereira, [24]Alain J. Picard, Jackson Pollock, Fairfield Porter, Edith Mitchill Prellwitz, Henry Prellwitz, Robert Rauschenberg, Man Ray, Charles M. Relyea, Frederic Remington, Priscilla Roberts, Norman Rockwell, Esther Rolick, Louise Emerson Ronnebeck, Herman Rose, Leonard Rosenfeld, James Rosenquist, Sanford Ross, Mark Rothko, Glen Rounds, Luis Alvarez Roure, Peter Rubino, Morgan Russell, Abbey Ryan,[25] Sam Savitt, Concetta Scaravaglione, Louis Schanker, Mary Schepisi, Katherine Schmidt, Emily Maria Scott, Ethel Schwabacher, Joan Semmel, Maurice Sendak, Ben Shahn, Nelson Shanks, Nat Mayer Shapiro, Henrietta Shore, Jessamine Shumate, David Smith, Tony Smith, Vincent D. Smith Robert Smithson, Louise Hammond Willis Snead, Armstrong Sperry, Otto Stark, William Starkweather, Frank Stella, Joseph Stella, Inga Stephens Pratt Clark, Harry Sternberg, Clyfford Still, Soichi Sunami, Katharine Lamb Tait, Minerva Teichert, Val Telberg, Patty Prather Thum, George Tooker, Kim Tschang-yeul, Wen-Ying Tsai, Marija Rima Tūbelaitė, Luce Turnier, Cy Twombly, Jack Tworkov, Edward Charles Volkert, Emmett Watson, Nan Watson, Alonzo C. Webb, Sybilla Mittell Weber Davyd Whaley, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, Adolph Alexander Weinman, J. Alden Weir, Jerry Weiss, Stow Wengenroth, Pennerton West, Anita Willets-Burnham, Ellen Axson Wilson, Gahan Wilson, Louise Waterman Wise, Sarah A. Worden, Alice Morgan Wright, Russel Wright, Art Young, Philip Zuchman, and Iván Zulueta.[26][18][19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "LINEA". Retrieved 2013-07-23.
  2. ^ Cotter, Holland (2005-09-09). "CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK - A School's Colorful Patina -". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-07-23.
  3. ^ "Art Students League". The Art Story.
  4. ^ Christopher Gray (2003-10-05). "Streetscapes/Art Students League at 215 West 57th Street; An 1892 Limestone-Fronted Building That Endures". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-07-23.
  5. ^ "The American Fine Arts Society" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. December 10, 1968. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  6. ^ Clint Weber, Sr. (19 July 2012). The Treasured Collection of Golden Heart Farm: A Biography of Wilhelmina Weber Furlong. Weber Furlong Collection. In the foreword by Professor Emeritus James K. Kettlewell: Harvard, Skidmore College, Curator The Hyde Collection. ISBN 978-0-9851601-0-4. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  7. ^ Brent Wilson; Harlan Hoffa; Pennsylvania State University. School of Visual Arts; National Art Education Association (1987). The history of art education: proceedings from the Penn State Conference. National Art Education Association.
  8. ^ Marian Wardle. American Women Modernists: The Legacy of Robert Henri, 1910-1945. Rutgers University Press; 2005. ISBN 978-0-8135-3684-2. p. 105.
  9. ^ "Art Students' League Lacks Funds, May End: Nation's Oldest Independent Art School Lost 600 Pupils to Armed Forces". New York Herald Tribune. 1942-02-09. p. 17. Retrieved 2020-12-01 – via ProQuest.
  10. ^ "Art Students League Saved by Contributions: Artists Donate 15,000 to Avert Closing in September". New York Herald Tribune. 1942-06-25. p. 17. Retrieved 2020-12-01 – via ProQuest.
  11. ^ "Staying Power". July 9, 2015.
  12. ^ Hoory, Leeron (July 4, 2016). "The Improbable History Of NYC's Revolutionary Art School, The Art Students League". Gothamist.
  13. ^ "History". The Art Students League. Retrieved 2013-07-23.
  14. ^ "Residency". Archived from the original on 2010-09-13. Retrieved 2013-07-23.
  15. ^ "The Art Students League - Instructors". Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  16. ^ "Dionisio Cimarelli".
  17. ^ "DOROTHY GAY JUERGENS". Larchmont Gazette. 2007. Retrieved 4 September 2020.
  18. ^ a b Prominent former members of the Art Students League, Art Students League website. Retrieved online, December 26, 2011
  19. ^ a b "Instructors and Lecturers - Past & Present". The Art Students League. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2013-07-23.
  20. ^ Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Oral history interview with Harry N. Abrams, 1972 March 14. [transcript 13 pp.] [Accessed Sept. 30, 2020]
  21. ^ Glickman, Anne S. Joan Kahn; April 13, 1914–1994. Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved February 14, 2022.
  22. ^ Slade prints of the 1950s : Richard Hamilton, Stanley Jones and Bartolomeu dos Santos. London: University College London. 2005. p. 55. ISBN 1-904800-06-8.
  23. ^ Sisario, Ben (2005-04-15). "Arts > Art & Design > Philip Pavia, 94, an Avant-Garde Sculptor, Is Dead". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-07-23.
  24. ^ "The Guggenheim Museums and Foundation". The Guggenheim Museums and Foundation.
  25. ^ Life After the League, compiled by Julia Montepagani Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, Lines from the League, Student and Alumni Newsletter, Winter 2011-2012
  26. ^ "Prominent Former Students ofThe Art Students League of New York".

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]