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Art Students League

Catskills at Woodstock by Frank Swift Chase

In 1906 the Art Students League moved its summer school to Woodstock. The League had been founded in New York City in 1875 as an alternative to the mainstream National Academy of Design and had become one of the most important art schools in the country. From 1906 to 1922, and again from 1947 to 1979, the Art Students League brought as many as 200 students to the Woodstock area each year.

Birge Harrison taught at the summer school in Woodstock for its first five years. He had been the painting instructor at Byrdcliffe in 1904 and indeed there was much overlap of artists, both students and teachers, among the various organizations in Woodstock. As Harrison noted, “The desire is to develop a number of individual painters and not to develop a ‘school.’” Landscape was emphasized as much as the figurative tradition, and naturally, given the bucolic location, it became a focus for many artists working in Woodstock.