Sunday, July 1, 2012

Bellows, George Wesley

Love of Winter
oil on canvas
81.6 x 101.6 cm (32 1/2 x 40 1/2 in.)
The Art Institute of Chicago, USA

George Wesley Bellows (1882 - 1925) was an American realist painter, known for his bold depictions of urban life in New York City, becoming, according to the Columbus Museum of Art, "the most acclaimed American artist of his generation".

He was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. He attended The Ohio State University from 1901 until 1904. There he played for the baseball and basketball teams, and provided illustrations for the school's student yearbook. He was encouraged to become a professional baseball player, and he worked as a commercial illustrator while a student and continued to accept magazine assignments throughout his life. Despite these opportunities in athletics and commercial art, he desired success as a painter. He left Ohio State University without graduating, and moved to New York City to study art.

George Wesley Bellows studied at the New York School of Art. He rented a studio and began painting scenes of everyday urban life. He also taught art at the Arts Students League. He developed a strong social conscious and began contributing pictures to the radical journal, The Masses. Although rarely paid for his work, he got the opportunity to work with other left-wing artists. He was deeply influenced by the events of the First World War and he completed a series of paintings and lithographs on the subject. He also produced several anti-war drawings for The Masses.
When George Wesley Bellows died in New York at the age of forty-two in 1925, he was hailed as one of the greatest artists America had yet produced.