Wednesday, August 28, 2013

George Bellows and the American Experience

The Columbus Museum of Art celebrates one of the city’s best loved native sons with George Bellows and the American Experience, on view August 23, 2013 – January 4, 2014. The exhibition highlights the importance of CMA’s Bellows collection, widely recognized as the best in the world, and showcases the artist’s vibrant, groundbreaking works. Bellows and the American Experience brings together more than 35 of his most stunning works from museums and private collections throughout the United States. The world of his paintings comes to life through period photographs, descriptions by his friends, thoughts from his own record book, as well as caricatures and conservation studies.

“Stag at Sharkey’s”

“For the past year our Bellows paintings have traveled the world as part of a major retrospective that drew crowds to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Royal Academy in London,” said CMA Curator of American Art Melissa Wolfe. “We’re excited to welcome them home and to be able to celebrate the profound impact George Bellows had, and continues to have, on the art world.”

Polo at Lakewood

George Wesley Bellows, one of the country’s most celebrated twentieth-century artists, is especially known for his controversial boxing images and evocative urban scenes. His career, although brief, was dazzling. An avid athlete, Bellows played shortstop for the Buckeyes before leaving Columbus in 1904 to study art in New York City. Within five years the young artist had taken the American art world by storm, winning every major award and rising from art student to acclaimed luminary.

“Stag at Sharkey’s”

He was a college dropout at twenty-two, a member of the prestigious National Academy at twenty-seven, the country’s most important lithographer at thirty-five, and tragically dead from a ruptured appendix at forty-three. In these twenty-one years of professional life, Bellows created an enormous body of work that conveyed his lively sense of humor, his seemingly effortless talent, and his political and social sensibilities. Bellows captured the essence of his subjects and delivered it to his viewers with perception, compassion, and, occasionally outrage.

George Bellows
Blue Snow, The Battery
Columbus Museum of Art, Museum Purchase: Howald Fund
Bellows - New York

George Bellows
New York
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon

From an excellent (short) article in the Columbus Monthly:
Bellows won fame with tough-fisted sports paintings, yet portraits of wife Emma and daughters Anne and Jean, such as

“Emma and Her Children,”

reflect his affection for his Midwestern, family-oriented beginnings. (Ironically, his parents discouraged his art, though his father was a prominent architect.)

The Museum will host an international scholarly symposium November 8 and 9 that will explore many of the issues and concerns central to the artist’s work.