William Glackens was an American realist painter and a founder of the Ashcan School. In 1913, he created “Washington Square,” a painting that depicts scenes from Washington Square Park in New York City using charcoal, pencil, colored pencil, gouache, and watercolor on paper. The painting is part of MoMA’s collection and was gifted by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller. Glackens became known for his dark-hued paintings of street scenes and daily life in the city’s neighborhoods.
“Washington Square” portrays everyday people as they go about their daily lives in New York City’s urban environment. The painting captures the movements of different figures engaged in various activities such as reading newspapers, pushing baby strollers, and walking dogs. The use of different colors gives the viewer a lively impression with elements balancing each other throughout the composition.
Glackens’ contributions to American art history are immense; his work has strongly impacted modernism during his time till now (including impressionists), particularly due to his ability to capture moments through brushstrokes further allowing space for interpretation from viewers.
Furthermore when analysing “March Day – Washington Square”, one can perceive that despite being located within an urban environment it still retains its essence; catering flow between movement-life such as individuals involved with sports at the centre of the piece versus those more immobile who probably stopped by on MARCH DAY – WASHINGTON SQUARE). This style has influenced many notable artists following him like John Sloan and George Bellows reinforcing why he is often referred to as among America’s greatest painters.