John Sloan (American, August 2, 1871–September 7, 1951), was a prominent figure in the Ashcan School of Realist artists. The Ashcan School focused on images of everyday life in urban areas. Sloan primarily used oil and acrylic paint in his works. He also created metal etches with acid. Some of Sloan's most famous works include The Hairdresser's Window, The Picnic Ground, and The Haymarket. All of these images depict scenes inspired by the town of Lock Haven, PA, where Sloan spent his childhood. His most famous pieces can be seen in the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, CT, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. He focused his attention on the interactions of lower-class people when creating his works. Sloan had a mixture of formal training in a school setting and one-on-one training with a teacher to learn his skills.
Sloan lived in Lock Haven, PA, until 1904. He then moved to New York City and took a job to support his ailing father and sisters. Some of Sloan's first works were influenced by his role models Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471–1528) and Rembrandt (Dutch, 1606–1669). He met a contemporary Realist artist, Robert Henri (American, 1865–1929) in 1892, and would later begin to learn from him. In addition, Sloan gained experience from his work as a draughtsman and learned formally at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
The subject matter of Sloan's paintings often led critics to associate him with the growing socialist movement in the Soviet Union and other parts of Europe, but he denied these allegations; he preferred to keep propaganda out of his work. Sloan was, however, a member of the Socialist party as of 1910. Most of Sloan's life was spent in Pennsylvania and New York City, but he also lived briefly in Gloucester, NY. Not all of Sloan's work depicted cities; he often spent summers in Santa Fe, NM, to practice depicting the natural desert scenery. Sloan's second wife, Helen Farr, is responsible for the preservation of his work. Sloan died in 1951 in New Hampshire.