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George Wesley Bellows (1882-1925)

( Originally Published 1955 )

American painter, disciple of Henri and younger member of the Ashcan School (see). Born in Columbus, O., he attended Ohio State University, but decided on an artistic career and in 1904 came to New York. He studied with R. Henri, K. H. Miller and H. G. Maratta. He opened a studio in 1906 and in 1908 his first landscape won a prize at the National Academy of Design. In 1909, at the age of twenty-seven, he was elected an associate of the National Academy, one of the youngest in its history. In 1910, he became an instructor at the Art Students League; he also taught at the Ferrer School and the Art Institute of Chicago. He died in New York of acute appendicitis. His earliest work is in the broad, vigorous realistic style of the Ashcan School; from the beginning, however, he showed a predilection for more active and spectacular city themes and painted city life and prize-fights with broad bravura. After the Armory Show he moved out of the Ashcan School orbit. His work became technically more subtle but also, perhaps because of his interest in dynamic symmetry and set palettes, more restricted and formal, confined largely to portraiture and landscapes. The earlier gray tonality gave way to a higher pitched palette, the earthy vigor to compositional grandeur and technical virtuosity. In 1916 he took up lithography and produced many prints of great tonal subtlety.

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