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Life's Rich Pageant: A Centennial Celebration of The Eight Opens at the Asheville Art Museum
John Sloan, The Picture Buyer, 1911, Etching, 5.25 x 6.88 inches. Museum purchase with funds provided by 2007 Collectors’ Circle members Frances Myers, Dick and Nancy Albyn. Asheville Art Museum Collection.

ASHEVILLE, NC.- The Asheville Art Museum is pleased to invite you to experience Life’s Rich Pageant: A Centennial Celebration of The Eight, an exhibition that showcases the works of eight unique, ground-breaking artists and celebrates their landmark exhibition in 1908 at the Macbeth Gallery in New York.

Exhibition opportunities for American artists in the first years of the 20th century were dominated almost exclusively by two New York institutions — the Society of American Artists and the National Academy of Design. In 1906, when the two merged, many thought the alliance would result in an annual exhibition equal in size and scope to the great Parisian salons.

Despite the greater diversity promised by the merger, the work of many young realists differed so radically from the academicians that conflict was inevitable. At a meeting in his studio, Robert Henri, a member of the selection jury, laid plans for a secessionist show.

The Macbeth Gallery was willing to host it and on February 4, 1908, the show opened. Eight artists were included: Robert Henri (1865-1929), George Luks (1867-1933), William Glackens (1870-1938), John Sloan (1871-1951), Everett Shinn (1876-1953), Maurice Prendergast (1859-1924), Ernest Lawson (1873-1939) and Arthur Bowen Davies (1862-1928). The group lacked stylistic cohesion but were unified in their stance against the academic establishment.

The show at Macbeth was one of the most important events in the development of 20th century art, proving that a group of artists with strongly anti-academic sensibilities could attract wide public notice and financial success. Although they held only the one exhibition, the group became known as The Eight. Their exhibition challenged the concepts held dear by the academic community, reinvigorated interest in American Art and ushered in Modernism in painting.

Life’s Rich Pageant: A Centennial Celebration of The Eight showcases the collection of Mina and Stephen Weiner whose great affection for the group has fueled over forty years of collecting. This exhibition is sponsored by the Midgard Foundation and in part by Thom Robinson and Ray Griffin.

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