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VIRTUAL EVENT: Robert Henri & New Women: Reconsidering the “Ashcan” Circle

Thursday, September 17, 2020 - 6:00pm to 7:00pm
Registration is requested
Free and open to the public

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Virtual Event: Lecture: Robert Henri & New Women: Reconsidering the “Ashcan” Circle

with Ginny Badgett

The American painter Robert Henri (1865-1929) is among the most important artists and art teachers of the early twentieth century, yet his position within the history of American art is riddled with contradictions. One issue surrounds critics’ and art historians’ use of the term “Ashcan,” a once derogatory label used to describe paintings of gritty urban scenes. Henri largely abandoned his “Ashcan” subjects--dark, but expressively painted cityscapes--around 1904, and continued his career as a portrait painter. Assistant Curator Virginia Reynolds Badgett will shed light on the term “Ashcan,” which became popular years after Henri’s death in 1929. Over his long career, Henri taught and mentored hundreds of women artists, and his women students were among the most vocal in lionizing him. Despite their active role, women frequently avoided promoting “Ashcan” as a means to classify Henri’s art. Why? Badgett will explore the twists and turns of this popular art historical characterization, and will reveal the role women played in our present understanding of Robert Henri and his art.


Virginia “Ginny” Reynolds Badgett joined the Boston Athenæum as Assistant Curator of Special Collections in January. She is an interdisciplinary scholar of American art, history, and material culture of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Badgett will receive her PhD in the History of Art and Architecture from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2020, where her research has been supported by the University of California’s Graduate Division. Prior to joining the BA, she was the Provenance Research Fellow at the Birmingham Museum of Art in Alabama and previously held curatorial positions at Winterthur’s Boston Furniture Archive, the Detroit Institute of Arts, James Madison’s Montpelier, and the British Museum.  

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