Rebellious, boisterous, and highly original, painter George Benjamin Luks would lead a life remarkably different from other artists of his generation. While he would take formal training in America before heading to Europe to complete his education, his path would diverge wildly from that of his contemporaries.
Luks' parents had encouraged his artistic abilities and enrolled him, at the age of seventeen, in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Interestingly, his parents were also active members of the "Molly Maguires" which secretly worked to improve the lives of Irish immigrants working in the mines of Pennsylvania. This is, perhaps, one of the reasons Luks' eye was always turned to the poor and unfortunate as a subject for his paintings.
He traveled to D�sseldorf in the 1880s but was soon travelling to London and Paris. He was most impressed with the works of Rembrandt, van Steen, Hals, and Renoir. Upon his return he became an artistic correspondent for the "Philadelphia Press" and did comic strip work. During this time he befriended several other artists, and they inspired him to devote his efforts strictly to paintings.
He had all ready relocated to New York, and chose the city's sidewalks and urban poor for his subject. He, and seven other painters, formed a group called "The Eight" who staged a show at the Macbeth Gallery in 1908. They were protesting the rigidity of the National Academy.
He began teaching at the Art Students League in 1920, and would later teach from his own studio. He worked in a wide range of mediums, and created portraits, urban and genre scenes and illustrations. He was well-known during his life, and his death from a barroom brawl in 1933 shocked the art world.
Luks' works are in private and public collections, and can be seen in more than eighty museums.