George Bellows Retrospective at the National Gallery
For the first time in over thirty years, visitors of the National Gallery will have the chance to view over 130 paintings, drawings, and lithographs by famed artist, George Bellows (1882–1925). This retrospective, which will run from June 10–October 8, has been thoughtfully organized to demonstrate the link between the stylistic development of George Bellows and that of American art at the turn of the century.
Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, George Wesley Bellows chose to leave the Midwest only one year shy of graduating from Ohio State University in 1904. Following his desire to pursue an artistic career, Bellows moved to New York City, where he enrolled in classes at the New York School of Art. As a student of William Merritt Chase, Kenneth Hayes Miller, and John Sloan, Bellows learned to master his technique on the streets of New York. The mentor who had the most profound and lasting influence on Bellows’s career was Robert Henri; Henri taught Bellows to embrace personal expression over an academic technique, and infused his artistic approach with an appreciation for human vitality.
The gritty Realism seen in his tenement children, street scenes, and scenes of immigrant life have endured as Bellows’s artistic legacy, and these masterpieces will be the first works to confront audiences at the National Gallery. He continued to create “snapshots” of a developing American identity, a prominent theme within his work that became more pronounced as a result of his involvement with members of the Ashcan School. Originally coined as “The Eight”,—Arthur B. Davies, William Glackens, Robert Henri, Ernest Lawson, George Luks, Maurice Prendergast, Everett Shinn, and John Sloan—these men banded together in opposition against the ideals of American Impressionism. The group later expanded into what became known as the Ashcan School, and invited Bellows and his close friend, Edward Hopper, into their ranks.
The exhibition will continue to showcase the evolution of American Modernism through the works of George Bellows; his repertoire of later works continued to address themes that were essential in defining a new American identity. The display of Bellows’s oeuvre concludes with works completed in 1924, the year of the artist’s untimely death. After tracing the career path of George Bellows, the lasting impression created by these works will encourage visitors to consider how his career might have progressed had it not ended so suddenly.
Leave a Reply