Subway Stairs BY JOHN SLOAN
JOHN SLOAN received part of his early education in the vigorous school of the American newspaper.
After courses at the Spring Garden Institute and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts,
both in Philadelphia, he worked on the illustrating staff of several local newspapers.
The power of the press was expressed far more by cartoons in those days than in this, and high standards were demanded of newspaper illustrators. It was by no means unusual for one of them to graduate into a first-rate artist.
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Certain it is that John Sloan’s line acquired subtlety and eloquence during his career as a newspaperman.
He learned that there could be no paucity of subject matter in the many sided life of
no arresting quality of its own. But here the artist’s selective eye lifts the scene to distinction.
As is a commonplace with Sloan, every fact is tempered with sympathy and insight.
The main figure is wholly gracious: the touch of satire is reserved for a male back.
Surely, it is the back of a man with a weak, querulous face. It is no small triumph that this master of the
facts of life is also subtly suggestive as well.
It is just a snippet of New York life.