The Ashcan School, also known as the Ash Can Group, was a group of American Realist painters founded in New York in 1908.
Eight painters from Philadelphia, who had come to New York in 1904, joined forces in order to distance themselves from the academic style of the time, historicising depictions of the pioneering period as well as American Impressionism, and instead to devote themselves to the rough everyday life of various classes of the population of the metropolis in a new kind of socially critical American Realism.
The name Ashcan was used disparagingly by conservative critics, but ironically had become a trademark for the movement (the artists themselves originally called themselves The Eight).
Primarily the everyday big city milieu was depicted. Poor people in slums, drunks, criminals, accidents, crime and social misery. Their pictures did not attract attention at first and were rejected by galleries and museums, most of the eight earned extra money with press drawings (it was the time when newspaper photos were still rare). Some of the members later joined left-wing political movements and trade unions.