In 1892 Henri returned to the United States and continued his study at the Pennsylvania Academy under Robert Vonnoh. At the same time he began teaching at the School of Design for Women. He kept this position until 1985.
In 1900 Henri moved to New York City and was hired by William Merritt Chase to teach at the New York School of Art which had been founded by Chase. Within a year Chase and Henri were at odds about the curriculum, with Henri de-emphasizing the importance of draftsmanship and technique for a freer style. The disagreements escalated until Chase ended up leaving the school in 1907.
After being elected to the National Academy of Design in 1906, Henri became embittered with the refusal of one of his pieces for the 1907 show. In response he organized the first show of The Eight in February 1908. The Eight were Robert Henri, William Glackens, Everett Shinn, George Luks, John Sloan, Arthur Davies Maurice Prendergast and Ernest Lawson. Their work focused on urban settings and the seedier side of life in the city. The movement toward this gritty realism became known as the Ashcan school. Henri, helped organized many important shows and art societies during the beginning of the twentieth century mostly in response to what he felt was a confining and overly expensive jury system for the older more established art groups and shows.
In 1915 Henri began to teach at the Art Students League in New York and here he would influence many generations of painters with his passionate ideas about art. His teachings were collected by Margery Ryerson in book form and published as the Art Spirit in 1923. It has stayed in print since that time, extending Henri’s teaching to this day, as new generations read and pass on his ideals. Henri left the Art League in 1927 and died in 1929 at the age of 64.
Robert Henri His Life and Art
Bennard B. Perlman
Horizon Press 1884/ Dover Publications 1991
Abbeville Press 1984
Brush strokes carry a message whether you will it or not. The stroke is just like the artist at the time he makes it. All the certainties, all the uncertainties, all the bigness of his spirit and all the littleness are in it. —– Robert Henri