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It was a harsh critic who crowned as “Ash Can Artists” the painters who had dubbed themselves “The Eight” for their 1908 debut show. Setting themselves against Pennsylvania Academy classicism, the Ashcanners focused on urban grit. Of the six featured in “Metropolitan Lives: The Ashcan Artists and Their New York,” four (John Sloan, William Glackens, Everett Shinn, and George Luks) were originally artist-reporters, but all, including the school’s master, George Bellows, were seduced by the spontaneous street scenes of their spiritual leader, Robert Henri. Bellows’ 1909 Stag at Sharkey’s depicts boxing’s beastly beauty, presaging Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull and A.J. Liebling’s insightful pugilistic essays. Ashcan style is mixed, held together by a common sensibility rather than a dominant technique, though all six painters share a rough-hewn dreaminess and vividly, touchingly depict Bowery lives. At the Museum of American Art, 8th & G Sts. NW. (202) 357-2700. (Christopher Porter)