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Cleveland exhibitions capture 20th-century New York’s gritty side

‘Sailor and Girl, Times Square, New York,’ 1939, printed 1970s, Lou Stoumen (American, 1917–1991). Gelatin silver print; 30.4 by 22.8 cm. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Gift of George Stephanopoulos, 2018.378. © Lou Stoumen Archive / Museum of Photographic Arts

‘Sailor and Girl, Times Square, New York,’ 1939, printed 1970s, Lou Stoumen (American, 1917–1991). Gelatin silver print; 30.4 by 22.8 cm. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Gift of George Stephanopoulos, 2018.378. © Lou Stoumen Archive / Museum of Photographic Arts

CLEVELAND — A New York Minute: Street Photography, 1920–1950 and Ashcan School Prints and the American City, 1900–1940 opened in July at the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA). The exhibitions explore urban life in New York City during the first half of the 20th century through street photography and urban realism in printmaking.

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Ashcan School: a radical departure from the perfect world

A John Sloan oil painting of a New York City street scene made $77,500 plus the buyer’s premium in August 2015 at Eros Auctions, Inc.

A John Sloan New York City street scene made $77,500 plus the buyer’s premium in August 2015 at Eros Auctions, Inc.

NEW YORK — When it first appeared around 1900, the Ashcan School was a radical departure from the prevailing style of American Impressionist scenes of pretty girls and idealized landscapes. The Ashcan School wasn’t a school per se, but a loose art movement that embraced a journalistic, documentary approach and social realism, forsaking art for art’s sake.

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