John Sloan

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John Sloan

John French Sloan (August 2, 1871September 7, 1951) was an influential U.S. painter and teacher, and a leading member of a group of American artists known as The Eight. He is commonly associated with the Ashcan School of realist artists.


The Gist of Art (1939)[edit]

  • People who take things too literally don't get much of anything from my teaching. By never saying anything I mean, I say a great deal. I never mean anything I say under oath. I never mean exactly what I say. Not even this. You have to read between the words.
  • In John Sloan on Drawing and Painting. Mineola NY: Dover Publications, 2000. Originally published in 1939 as The Gist of Art, p. 7.
  • [As a painting teacher] I'm not flirting, playing around. I'm serious about it… If you don't want to be serious about playing [at art], do something of no account. Go into banking. Buy collar buttons at five cents a dozen and sell them for five cents a piece.
  • Ibid. p. 8.
  • It takes a great deal of strong personality to survive the art school training. Hard nuts that the art schools can't crack and devour get through and become artists.
  • Ibid., p. 8.
  • The idea of taking up art as a calling, a profession, is a mirage. Art enriches life. It makes life worth living. But to make a living at it—that idea is incompatible with making art.
  • Ibid., p. 26.
  • Then there is this idea that the world owes you a living. Here is a little thought about that. It isn't particularly logical but it makes my point. You were paid when you were born, with the privilege of living. Death is all that is coming to you. Life came to you when you were born.
  • Ibid., p. 27.

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