Eugene Higgins


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Painter and printmaker. Known especially for depictions of poor and laboring city dwellers, Higgins studied in Kansas City, his birthplace, before traveling to Paris for additional training at the Académie Julian and the École des Beaux-Arts. Abroad, he adapted the tradition of Daumier, Millet, and other French social commentators in depictions of the outcast and downtrodden. As he found recognition for his grim pessimism, in 1904 the well-known satirical magazine Assiette au beurre devoted an entire issue to his drawings. Returning to the United States later in that year, Higgins soon settled permanently in New York, where he turned his sympathetic gaze on its less fortunate inhabitants. His lower-class subject matter paralleled interests of the Ashcan School. However, in contrast to their characteristically vivacious and even optimistic attitude, Higgins's work typically suggests hopelessness and helplessness. Rarely depicting specific individuals, his paintings generalize and symbolize social conditions. He exhibited his work in the Armory Show and during the Depression, painted two murals for federal art projects. For some years he maintained a second studio in Old Lyme, Connecticut. From 1906 until 1917 he was married to Mabel Dwight.

Subjects: Art.

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