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George Wesley Bellows BiographyAmerican Realist artist
born 1882 - died 1925
Student of: Robert Henri (1865-1929)
George Wesley Bellows (1882-1925) was a prolific and accomplished leader among American artists who approached representation of the American scene realistically.
George Bellows was born in
Columbus, Ohio, on Aug. 19, 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. George Wesley
Bellows studied at the
New York School of Art under
who became an influential and lifelong friend.
In 1907 the first of
several George Wesley Bellows paintings of prizefighters were produced in action
in the ring; these expressed violent action
with power and seeming spontaneity. George
Wesley Bellows married in 1910, rebuilt an
old house on 19th Street, and started his teaching career at the Art
Students League. George Wesley Bellows was a teacher of the
Henri variety--bringing out the
individuality of each student with
excitement and imagination. George Wesley
Bellows spent several
summers in Maine, where he painted windswept
landscapes and sea scenes oil painting.
In the summer of 1912 Bellows visited California and New Mexico--his only excursion to the Far West. George Wesley Bellows 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 artists 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. George Wesley Bellows 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 George Wesley Bellows became interested in Jay Hambidge's theory of dynamic symmetry, which provided a geometric system of composition for controlling George Wesley Bellows paintings. Hambidge (and Bellows) believed it was followed by many of the great artists of antiquity.
at the Chicago Art Institute in 1919; his sojourn there was
remembered as a whirlwind of enthusiasm and
illustrations for novels by Don Byrne and H.
G. Wells (1921-1923) are rich in action,
characterization, and imagination. Bellows's
finest late paintings are undoubtedly the
portraits of his wife,
two small daughters, mother, and aunt.
Brilliantly painted, with solid structural
design and probing characterization, they
are among the triumphs of American realism,
legitimate successors to the best paintings of
Thomas Eakins. Less successful are some of
the late landscapes, which tend to be
mannered in style and lurid in color, and
the large Crucifixion, the only religious painting by George Wesley Bellows.
A neglected attack of appendicitis caused Bellows's death on Jan. 8, 1925, in New York.
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