Bellows, George Wesley

Bellows, George Wesley Biography

American painter and lithographer noted for his oil paintings of action scenes and for his expressive portraits and seascapes. Bellows was a member of the Ashcan school. He was born in Columbus, Ohio, and educated at Ohio State University. He studied with the realist painter Robert Henri, leader of the group of American realist painters called The Eight, who strongly influenced him, and later taught in New York City and Chicago. Bellows's dramatic, evocative oil paintings of prizefights, such as Stag at Sharkey's and Both Members of This Club (both 1909), date from this period as well; they remain among his most famous artworks. He received rapid recognition, becoming an unusually young member of the National Academy of Design in 1913.

Bellows was one of the organizers of the Armory Show of 1913, which introduced European modernist art to American artists and critics. The show had a marked influence on Bellows, and he supported many of the avant-garde art organizations then being established, including the Society of Independent Artists, of which he was a founding director. Although Bellows remained a realist painter, his later artworks reveal an intensified interest in theory. Bellows began to use a greater range of colour and to experiment with various compositional systems. The subject matter of his work also changed: many of the best artworks from this later period are seascapes-notably at Monhegan Island, Maine-and rural landscapes.

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