A prestigious ongoing art school in New York City that has had many of America’s most famous artists as enrollees.
The Art Students League began in the fall of 1875 in New York City as a drawing and sketching class by members of the art school of the National Academy of Design, which had closed temporarily.
Although the Academy school reopened in 1877, ASL participants led by Walter Shirlaw continued to operate because of the student demand for independence from the strictures of the Academy.
The next year, 1878, the League gained much stature when William Merritt Chase, a leader in the rebellion against the Academy, opened his painting class at the League.
Closely allied to the establishing of the Art Students League were members of the Society of American Artists. In 1892, League members moved into their newly-constructed building on West 57th Street, and by the end of the 1890s, nearly one-thousand students were enrolled.
Founders of the ASL had the objective of developing professional artists using unorthodox methods. The League continues into the 21st century with the same approaches with which it began: there are no entrance exams, diplomas or examinations.
Students, who serve on the governing board and set fees and appoint instructors, may enter any time during the year and attend classes whenever they wish.
Famous teachers in addition to William Merritt Chase include Robert Henri, Frank DuMond, Kenneth Miller, Thomas Eakins, John Sloan and George Bridgman.