George Bellows (American, 1882–1925): Stag at Sharkey's, 1909
Oil on canvas; 36 1/4 x 48 1/4 in. (92.1 x 122.6 cm)
Cleveland Museum of Art
George Bellows (1882-1925): Modern American Life
LONDON • Royal Academy of Arts • Ongoing
|George Bellows (1882–1925) was regarded as one of America's greatest artists when he died, at the age of forty-two, from a ruptured appendix. Bellows's early fame rested on his powerful depictions of boxing matches and gritty scenes of New York City's tenement life, but he also painted cityscapes, seascapes, war scenes, and portraits, and made illustrations and lithographs that addressed many of the social, political, and cultural issues of the day. Featuring some 120 works from Bellows's extensive oeuvre, this loan exhibition is the first comprehensive survey of the artist's career in nearly half a century.|
Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, George Bellows attended Ohio State University, where his athletic talents suggested that he might become a professional baseball player and his illustrations for the student yearbook hinted at an artistic calling. In 1904, before graduating, he moved to New York City to study art with Robert Henri, one of America’s most influential teachers in the period. Bellows would become the leading young member of the Ashcan School artists, all of whom Henri inspired. The Ashcan artists aimed to chronicle the realities of daily life, and Bellows was the boldest and most versatile among them in his choice of subjects, palettes, and techniques. Bellows never traveled abroad, but learned the lessons of European masters—such as El Greco, Francisco de Goya, Édouard Manet, and others who nourished Ashcan realism — by studying their works in museums, including the Metropolitan.
When, in 1911, the Metropolitan acquired his canvas Up the Hudson (1908) as its first Ashcan painting, Bellows became one of the youngest artists to be represented in the Museum’s collection. His candid portrayals of New York City, Maine’s rugged coast, boxers in the ring, the atrocities of World War I, friends and family members, and other distinctive themes are among the triumphs of early 20th-century art.
The exhibition is organized thematically, within a chronological framework:
New York, 1905–1908; Boxers and Portraits, 1907–1909; Penn Station and the Hudson River, 1907–1909; Work and Leisure, 1910–16; The Sea, 1911–17; Bellows’s Process, 1912–16; The War, 1918; Bellows’s Process, 1916–23; Family and Friends, 1914–19; and Late Works, 1920–24.
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