Art School History
The Educational Alliance is an original settlement set up in the 1890's to help east European immigrants settle in the United States.
The founders felt in this democratic society that the poor and immigrants should have access to the arts. Art classes were first offered in 1895. The aim was to morally uplift the students through developing their aesthetic standards. The young immigrants' teenagers who took classes grew up to be leading social realists and abstract painters of the 20th century.
These artists include Peter Blume, Ben Shahn, Phillip Evergood, Chaim Gross and the Soyer brothers. Some students went to Europe and brought back the concepts of Cubism. Abraham Walkowitz who grew up on Hester Street was one of these artist. In the next generation the Art School attracted young adults who did not necessarily grow up in the neighborhood, these artists included Barnett Newman, Adolph Gottlieb and Mark Rothko.
Even before offering art classes, the Alliance brought art directly to the immigrant community by present free art exhibits of artwork loaned by private collectors. These exhibits were "great incentives to the education and development of taste, that lead to reading, to study and to the appreciation of the beautiful, thus throwing a ray of much needed sunshine on darkened lives." 106,000 people attended the 1895 exhibit.
Chaim Gross and Louise Nevelson
Chaim Gross's story best demonstrates what the Alliance is about. As a teenager he came into the doors of the Alliance the day after he was processed through Ellis Island. He became a successful artist at a young age, and had a great influence on the course of sculpture in the United States. Financially and critically successful Chaim Gross gave back to the Educational Alliance all his life. He returned to teach for over 60 years, and most of those years he gave back his salary for student scholarships. For more information http://www.rcgrossfoundation.org
Louise Nevelson was a painter in her forties she took a clay sculpture class with Chaim Gross. Twenty years later she would become the most recognized woman sculptor of the Twentieth Century. For more information http://www.louisenvelsonfoundation.org
The 1970s: Alliance of Figurative Artists
During the 1970's the Art School hosted the "Alliance of Figurative Artists." This group met each Friday evening to discuss various aspects of representational art. During this decade representational art was not popular in the art schools, galleries, or museums. The Alliance gave the artists a space to exchange ideas.
Audio tapes of panel discussions and lectures presented at these meetings are on file in the Archives of American Art. http://www.aaa.si.edu Artists represented include: Lennart Anderson, Noah Baen, William Bailey, Rosemarie Beck, William Beckman, Leland Bell, Rudy Burkhardt, John Button, Gretna Campbell, Lois Dodd, Louis Finkelstein, Janet Fish, Jane Freilicher, Stanley Friedman, Paul Georges, Gregory Gillespie, Nathan Hale, John Koch, Majorie Kramer, Al Kresh, Gabriel Laderman, Alfred Leslie, Frank McCall, Edward Melcarth, Raoul Middleman, Richard A. Miller (Richard McDermott), Philip Pearlstein, Paul Resika, William Sullivan, Altoon Sultan, Sidney Tillim, Neil Welliver.
The Art School has artwork donated by the estates of Peter Blume and Elias Newman. The proceeds from sales of the artwork is used for scholarships.
For Further Information
In this brief history, we have only mentioned the most famous artists who studied at the Alliance, but we know of many others who had successful art and art related careers. Please feel free to contact the office if you'd like to learn more about our history. We are delighted to hear from former students, or adult children and relatives of former students.
Art School Alumni (students or former teachers) - 1895 to 1945
Artwork by alumni can be found in many museum throughout the United States, including:
Metropolitan Museum of Art, http://www.metmuseum.org
Museum of Modern Art, http://www.moma.org
Whitney Museum of Art, http://www.whitney.org
The Jewish Museum, http://www.thejewishmuseum.org
Museum of the City of New York, http://www.mcny.org
Smithsonian Museum of American Art http://www.americanart.si.edu
National Portrait Gallery http://www.npg.si.edu