Tuesday 4 December 2012

Ashcan School - George Bellows part 1

George Bellows by Robert Henri 1911 
oil on canvas 81 x 66 cm

Continuing the intermittent theme on the New York "Ashcan School" (see William Glackens, Robert Henri, George Luks, Everett Shinn in the index) the next artist I'm featuring is George Bellows.

George Wesley Bellows (1882-1925) was a prolific and accomplished leader among American painters who approached representation of the American scene realistically.

George Bellows was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1882. At Ohio State University (1901-1904) he distinguished himself as an athlete, but he determined that he wanted to be an artist and went to New York City in 1904 without graduating. For a time he supported himself as a professional athlete. He studied at the New York School of Art under Robert Henri, who became an influential and lifelong friend. 

Bellow's early paintings are swift and vivid character studies, of sombre tonality. His development was very rapid, and from 1906 on his works were accepted in national exhibitions. He was fascinated with the spectacle of the great city: its buildings, crowds, types, and rivers. Though he was denounced by conservative critics as one of the "apostles of ugliness," his technical brilliance made him more acceptable than any of the other painters of similar impulse. He became an associate of the National Academy of Design at the age of 27, the youngest person ever so honoured, and was elected a full academician four years later. His work is marked by exuberance, variety of subject matter, humour, and vitality. 

In 1907 Bellows produced the first of several paintings of prizefighters in action in the ring; these expressed violent action with power and seeming spontaneity. He married in 1910, rebuilt an old house on 19th Street, and started his teaching career at the Art Students League. He was a teacher of the Henri variety - bringing out the individuality of each student with excitement and imagination. He spent several summers in Maine, where he painted windswept landscapes and sea scenes. In the summer of 1912 Bellows visited California and New Mexico - his only excursion to the Far West. He never went to Europe. 

Bellows was well represented in the important Armory Show of 1913. The new European movements exhibited there may have had an unsettling influence on him, as they did on many progressive American painters who discovered that their innovations had been in subject matter rather than in method or form. In 1916 Bellows turned to lithography (at this time seldom used by serious artists) because its immediacy attracted him, His nearly 200 lithographs deal with a wide variety of subjects - genre scenes, nudes, portraits, landscapes, literary illustrations, and humorous or satiric commentaries. He was deeply and emotionally affected by World War I and recorded his reactions in a series of powerful and painful prints that have been compared with those of Goya. 

In 1918 he became interested in Jay Hambidge's theory of dynamic symmetry, which provided a geometric system of composition for controlling the artist's work. Hambidge (and Bellows) believed it was followed by many of the great artists of antiquity. Bellows taught at the Chicago Art Institute in 1919; his sojourn there was remembered as a whirlwind of enthusiasm and activity. A neglected attack of appendicitis caused Bellows's death in January 1925 in New York. 

I am mainly showing Bellows’ paintings in this series of posts along with a chosen handful of his lithographs – showing all his lithographs would be overkill. 

This is part 1 of a 6-part post on the works of George Bellows:

1898 Sag Harbour 
watercolour 28.9 x 53 cm

after 1904 Old Fisherman 
oil on canvas 61 x 48.6 cm

1905 Bethesda Fountain ( Fountain in Central Park ) 
oil on canvas 51.4 x 61.8 cm

1905 Central Park 
oil on canvas 54.6 x 64.8 cm

1905 May Day in Central Park 
oil on canvas 45.7 x 55.9 cm

1905 Robin 
oil on canvas 107.9 x 77.47 cm

c1905 Head of Boy ( aka Gray Boy ) 
oil on canvas 66.7 x 52.1 cm

1906 Cross-Eyed Boy 
oil on canvas 50.8 x 66 cm

1906 Kids 
oil on canvas 81.3 x 106.7 cm

1906 Portrait of My Father 
oil on canvas 72 x 55.9 cm

1906 River Rats 
oil on canvas 77.5 x 97.8 cm

1906 Swans in Central Park 
oil on canvas 47 x 53.3 cm

c1906 Election Night Times Square 
charcoal, lithographic crayon, conté crayon, ink on paper 46.1 x 66 cm

c1906 On the East Side 
crayon, charcoal and ink on paper 31.8 x 25.4 cm

1907 August Lundberg 
oil on canvas 64 x 46 cm

1907 Club Night 
oil on canvas 109.2 x 134.2 cm

1907 Dance at Insane Asylum 
charcoal with stumping, pen and ink, crayon, chalk on paper 48 x 63 cm

1907 Forty-Two Kids 
oil on canvas 107.6 x 153 cm

1907 Frankie the Organ Boy 
oil on canvas 122 x 88 cm

1907 Little Girl in White 
oil on canvas 157.5 x 86.4 cm

1907 Pennsylvania Excavation 
oil on canvas 88 x 111.8 cm

1907 The Knock Out 
ink and pastel on paper 55.2 x 71.1 cm

1907 Tin Can Battle, San Juan Hill, New York 
ink, crayon and charcoal on paper 50.8 x 60.3 cm

1908 A Cloudy Day ( Hudson River, Coming Squall ) 
oil on fabric mounted on fibreboard 76.3 x 98 cm

1908 Excavation at Night 
oil on canvas 86.4 x 111.8 cm

1908 In Virginia 
oil on canvas 74.3 x 94 cm

1908 Noon 
oil on canvas 55.9 x 71.1 cm

1908 North River 
oil on canvas 83.5 x 109.2 cm

1908 Paddy Flannigan 
oil on canvas 76.2 x 63.5 cm

1908 Rain on the River 
oil 81.9 x 97.2 cm

1908 Steaming Streets 
oil on canvas 97.5 x 76.8 cm

1908 Up the Hudson 
oil on canvas 91.1 x 122.2 cm

1908-10 Beach at Coney Island 
oil on canvas 106.7 x 152.4 cm

1909 Blue Morning 
oil on canvas 80.3 x 110.2 cm

1909 Both Members of this Club 
oil on canvas 114.9 x 160.4 cm

1909 Excavation work for the Pennsylvania Station 
oil on canvas

1909 Lone Tenement 
oil on canvas 91.8 x 122.3 cm

1909 Nude Girl, Miss Leslie Hall 
oil on canvas 152.4 x 106.7 cm

1909 Stag at Sharkey's 
oil on canvas 92.1 x 122.6 cm

1917 Stag at Sharkey's 
lithograph 47.3 x 60.5 cm ( image )

1909 Summer City 
oil on canvas 96.5 x 121.9 cm

1909 Summer Night, Riverside Drive 
oil on canvas 90.2 x 120.6 cm

1909 The Bridge, Blackwell's Island 
oil on canvas 86.5 x 111.9 cm


  1. Just saw the Bellows show at the Met. Great stuff!

  2. I think Bellows was the most competent of all the painters associated with the Ashcan School.

  3. many thanks for sharing these quality images. much appreciated.



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