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 George Wesley Bellows

George Wesley Bellows

Birth
Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio, USA
Death 8 Jan 1925 (aged 42)
New York, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Burial Brooklyn, Kings County (Brooklyn), New York, USA
Plot Section 24, Lot 478/479
Memorial ID 75 · View Source
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Artist. He is remembered for being one of “The Eight,” a group of 20th century artists who held a show in January 1908 at the MacBeth's Gallery in New York City. Deviating from the tradition thought of art, this group consisted of their leader and art instructor, Robert Henri and other realistic artists: John French Sloan, Maurice Pendergast, Ernest Lawson, William Glacken, Everett Shinn, Arthur Davies, and Bellows, who was the last to join. Although these men differed in their styles, all were “united in their advocacy of exhibition opportunities free from the jury system as their belief in content and painting techniques that were not necessarily sanctioned by the conservative National Academy of Design.” By rejecting these artist of realistic thought of art, the National Academy of Design was impacting their livelihood. This group of artist needed representation, and as an act of protest, “The Eight” held their own show in 1908. The Ashcan School of Art in New York City evolved from “The Eight”. This school was interested in capturing the real but modern imaging of the working-class New Yorkers in paintings of bright, rich colors. At that time, many thought this subject was vulgar, inappropriate and undesirable. Bellows was a painter and lithographer, but most noted for his painting showing action, expressive portraits and seascapes. Seeking to be a professional athlete, he attended Ohio State University prior to moving in 1904 to New York City. Receiving high praises for the illustrations in the college yearbook, he changed his career to art. He studied at the New York School of Art, and it was there he met Henri, who was his instructor. Bellows impersonated Henri's style of painting with the dark, tonal palette using vigorous brushwork, and the scenes with working-class in the streets of New York City, which can be seen in his 1907 “Forty-two Kids,” a painting of the slum children, some nude, playing on a dock and swimming in the East River. Bellows was best known for his dramatic, action-filled paintings of prizefights, such as “Stag at Sharkey's” and “Both Members of This Club,” which are both from 1907 in oil. In 1909, he was elected an associate member of the National academy of Design, gaining full membership in 1913. As with many of the members of the “The Eight,” he taught at the Art Students League in New York City starting in 1910. Since he never traveled to Europe, he studied paintings that were hanging in museums. Politically, he was a Socialist like Sloan and the two men contributed illustrations to “The Masses,” a Socialist magazine. He, along with Davies, who was the President of the American Association of Arts and Sculpture, organized the month-long 1913 Amory Show in New York City; it was here that the American public was introduced to the modern realistic art style. This show influenced Bellows' career greatly as he received the support of many avant-garde art organizations. He was the founding director of the Society of Independent Artists. Although he was a realist painter, his later pieces show an intensified interest in theory, using a greater range of color, and experimenting with systems of composites as seen in his 1915 “River Front”. The subject matter of his work changed as many of his later pieces were intimate portraits of friends and family, such as his 1921 “My Mother.” In 1921, he did a self-portrait which is on display at the Boston Public Library. After going to the coast of Maine, he turned to seascapes and rural landscapes. Starting in 1916, he produced nearly 200 lithography prints, with the best-know being his boxing scene in“Dempsey and Firpo.” While he was in his prime, he died from peritonitis from a ruptured appendix at the age of forty-two. The Metropolitan Museum of Art organized the artist's first exhibition later in 1925 as a memorial service. Having a close relationship to the Metropolitan Museum, the museum acquired in 1911 one his paintings “Up the Hudson,” thus making him, at 29 years old, one of the youngest artist in their collection. Over the years, the museum has received ten more of his paintings, six drawings, and over fifty prints. At his memorial service, Henri said, “I always gave him my most severe criticism because I thought he was my best pupil. Now, I am sure of it.”

Bio by: Linda Davis


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 75
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for George Wesley Bellows (12 Aug 1882–8 Jan 1925), Find A Grave Memorial no. 75, citing Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, Kings County (Brooklyn), New York, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .