Posts Tagged ‘George Bellows’

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.

Stagatsharkeys

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.