Posts Tagged ‘George Bellows’

A little girl’s enchantment with Gramercy Park

September 9, 2013

George Bellows’ 1920 painting Gramercy Park explodes with light and color. It’s a park he knew well; he and his family lived around the corner on East 19th Street.

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“The central figure in white is Bellows’s older daughter Anne and situated just behind her in a purple frock is [second daughter] Jean,” states Christies.com.

“Bellows, in the present work depicts the corner of the park bordering Gramercy Park South and Gramercy Park West. The columns that make up the imposing Tuscan facade of the theater club known as The Players located next to the National Arts Club at 16 Gramercy Park West are just visible along the left edge of the composition.

“Facing the viewer in the background beyond the iron fence are the row of brownstones that line Gramercy Park West.”

Skinny dipping off a broken East River pier

June 28, 2013

George Bellows always seems to have such empathy for his subjects, especially poor street kids—like the ones in his 1907 painting 42 Kids.

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In a review of a recent Bellows show in London, a reviewer from The Guardian wrote this:

“[In 42 Kids] Bellows swiftly tallies the figures—’kids’ not ‘lads’ or even ‘boys’—suggesting their closeness to a litter of cubs or pups—who use a derelict pier as the diving board from which they hurl themselves into one of Manhattan’s turbid rivers.”

George Bellows paints the raw New York winter

December 27, 2012

Realist painter and longtime East 19th Street resident George Bellows is best known for his bold views of amateur boxers as well as the grittiness of urban life in the early 20th century.

He painted scenes showing every season. But there’s something about his depictions of New York beneath cold gray skies, covered in snow, or surrounded by ice that captures the city’s abrasive, isolating winters.

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“Pennsylvania Station Excavation,” from 1907-1908, puts the fiery equipment brought in to clear out 31st to 33rd Streets between snowy ground and an icy sky.

“The scene has an infernal quality, with the digging machinery circled by small fires and rising smoke near the center of the snowy pit, and all overshadowed by a massive building from which soot streams across the acid blue of a winter sunset,” states the website for the Brooklyn Museum.

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“Snow Dumpers,” painted in 1911, shows us overcoat-clad city workers and snorting horses tasked with carrying loads of snow from Manhattan streets to be dumped into the choked-with-traffic East River.

The skies over the river and Brooklyn Bridge look gray and frigid, and the snow has streaks of blue.

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“Steaming Streets,” from 1908, reveals winter as an agent of chaos. “[The painting] is dealing with a fleeting, highly charged moment during winter in New York when weather and traffic conditions have combined to create havoc in the street,” explains the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

“Immediately one feels that the vapors from the melting snow and slush are unsettling the horses and adding to the annoyance of the driver, who is forcibly braking them against the oncoming trolley and team to its left.”

The Met’s George Bellows exhibit runs until February 18, a powerful collection of paintings by an artist with a sharp eye for the moods of his adopted city.

The “river rats” taking a swim off Manhattan

July 30, 2012

Painter George Bellows chronicled many of New York’s slum streets and tenements.

In 1906′s gritty and dark River Rats, he portrays the poor kids who spent summer evenings cooling off in the filthy East River, the docks and rocks their only respite from the heat of the city.

“Along the lower edge of the muddy-colored canvas a gangling group of scantily clad boys is depicted cavorting at the edge of the East River, while the center of the painting is given over to the graceless, rocky cliff descending from the city streets to the water,” writes Marianne Doezema in George Bellows and Urban America.

The rocky cliff in the painting—perhaps it was part of the old Gashouse District in the East 20s or Dutch Hill in the East 40s and 50s, which became an industrial area packed with slaughterhouses and factories before being razed to make way for Tudor City in the 1920s?

The messy, crowded, chaotic city of 1911

November 15, 2011

It’s hard to say where the sidewalk ends and the street begins in Ashcan School artist George Bellows’ New York, painted in 1911.

It belongs to the National Gallery of Art in Washington and is one of Bellows’ energetic depictions of a crude, crammed New York  in the early 20th century.

Bellows also revealed a more desolate side to the city, like this raw portrait of a single tenement by the East River.

“The Lone Tenement” beside the East River

May 27, 2011

George Bellows painted many busy, emotional New York scenes in the early 20th century. “The Lone Tenement,” from 1909, depicts a raw city and its cast-off residents.

“George Bellows was a poet of the city, an artist who loved New York as much as Monet loved his garden or Bierstadt loved the Rocky Mountains,” states Artcyclopedia.com.

“There are so many things to look at in this picture that Bellows hardly knows where to direct our attention: sunlight randomly glinting on a window, transients huddled around a fire, a horse-drawn carriage, a ship belching steam on the East River, and in the center a lonely building withering in the shadow of the then-brand-new Queensboro Bridge.”

The “cliff dwellers” of Manhattan’s slums

February 22, 2010

“Cliff Dwellers” is the name Ash Can School painter George Bellows gave his 1913 depiction of lower Manhattan tenement life.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which owns the painting, describes Cliff Dwellers this way: 

“The people are poor, living in cramped apartments, with too many children to feed; the children have the character of untrustworthy street urchins. Yet scenes such as this were not intended to be critical of foreigners of their living conditions; indeed, the activity has a lighthearted, almost circuslike quality.”

Fight night in New York: “Stag at Sharkey’s”

June 23, 2009

Until 1920, boxing was mostly outlawed in New York state. A loophole allowed fights to take place in athletic clubs, so many bars became on-the-fly athletic clubs in order to host matches. One of these bars-turned-clubs was Sharkey’s, a saloon on Columbus Avenue near West 67th Street. 

Owned by heavyweight fighter Sailor Tom Sharkey, it’s the setting for this dark, raw 1909 painting by George Bellows. Bellows was part of the Ashcan School—a group of artists bent on depicting realistic, gritty scenes of daily life.

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Bellows had a studio close to Sharkey’s; it was in the Lincoln Arcade building, then on Broadway and 65th Street. “Stag at Sharkey’s” remains one of his most popular works.


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