Urban Realism and the American Scene
Robert Henri (1865–1929)
Figure in Motion, 1913
A founder of the so-called Ashcan school and respected teacher of several major modernists, Robert Henri rejected conservative art education and instead encouraged subjective artistic expression. Created for the famed Armory Show of 1913, Figure in Motion presents a nude woman in a dancelike pose; it evokes a single moment in a movement that presumably will continue. Henri’s expressive brushwork complements the figure’s sense of motion and emphasizes the active nature of painting itself. He portrays the female nude as a modern individual. Her fluid gesture, as she raises herself on her toes, recalls the emerging art of modern dance as pioneered by the acclaimed performer and choreographer Isadora Duncan (1877–1927), whose work Henri avidly followed. In this work, he suggests that the relentless motion and change characterizing modernity are synonymous with the dynamism of life itself.
Learn more about this painting on the Terra Foundation website.