Urban Realism and the American Scene

George Luks (1866–1933)

Knitting for the Soldiers: High Bridge Park, c. 1918

Oil on canvas, 30 3/16 x 36 1/8 in. (76.7 x 91.8 cm). Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1999.87

George Luks was part of a group of artists known as The Eight, who showed their work in 1908 in reaction to the National Academy of Design’s conservative exhibition policies. Although his painting style evolved throughout his career, expressive depictions of everyday life in New York City remained Luks’s primary subject matter. The refined middle-class figures and vibrant palette seen in Knitting for the Soldiers: High Bridge Park contrast sharply with the more somber subject matter and style of his earlier work. Here, the artist captured the brisk atmosphere and cold light of a winter’s day; companionable women of various ages are knitting outdoors for a mutual cause. The bright colors and unsentimental appreciation of this mundane activity recall French impressionist scenes of modern life. When exhibited in 1918, Luks’s painting was titled simply Knitting, but contemporary critics assumed that the garments were intended for men serving in World War I (1914–18).

Learn more about this painting on the Terra Foundation website.