2009/08/30

Inspiration: George Bellows


Bellows is another one of those artists who walked a fine line between caricature and fine art. One only needs to look at the faces in the crowd of his fight scenes and his renditions of New York's lower east side during the early 20th century to see some really great examples of stretching features. I was familiar with "Stag at Sharkey's" but really became introduced to his work when I found a book of his lithographs. He was a member of "The Eight", a group of painters founded by Robert Henri and included John Sloan, Everett Shinn, William Glackens, & George Luks, all well known for their great illustration work as well as their paintings. Labeled the Ashcan School of Art, they depicted the darker, grittier side of American life.

I recall seeing an exhibit of Bellows paintings at the Met and standing in front of "The Cliff Dwellers" taking in all the wonderful detail. Then I moved in for closer inspection and the faces that had all that beautiful detail were just a "sploosh" of paint...I was totally amazed by how he was able to achieve those results with such a loose brush.












George Wesley Bellows - Wikipedia

Ashcan School

The Powerful Hand of George Bellows: Drawings from the Boston Public Library

11 comments:

Will Appledorn said...

I love these posts!

thanks for sharing.

Jim Hopkins said...

Thanks for posting Vin.
I know those Bellows paintings you show at the beginning of the thread, but I've never seen those caricatues. Great stuff -I'll have to check out the book you mention!

Marion said...

What a great painter, and what an interesting blog you have Vin!
I see many influences in his work, from Little Nemo to Toulouse Lautrec. Fascinating!
Nowadays you couldn't draw so many naked kids without being called a pervert I guess......

Vincenzo said...

Glad you find them of interest Will :)

Jim
Unfortunately the book I have is out of print but I'm sure you can find numerous examples of his drawings and lithos online or in the library. He, like Dobell and Alice Neel took some liberties with a subject's features.

Marion
He certainly was a terrific painter as well as the other "Ashcan" artists...I hope you actually get to see some of the work in person...online images really doesn't do it justice!!!

BODARD said...

I didn't know his caricatures, and only some of his paintings. This is really great, Thanks V., your blog is so interesting for me !

Vince M said...

I love this Vincent. Bellows has long been one of my favorites of the Ashcan School. I know you live in the suburbs now but only a city-raised child can really appreciate the deeper subtext of this type of artist. I'm guessing you're originally from NYC or Brooklyn, as I am.
Love your work. It's heartfelt and authentic.

Vince M said...

P.S.- I worked for Warner Brothers in Burbank, Ca. in the mid-'90s and had access to their back lot, in fact some days after moving west from Brooklyn I'd eat my lunch on the New York Street set just to feel at home. And I noticed that it looked exactly like Bellows' "Cliff Dwellers", only on a smaller scale. However when the cameras are rolling it's an exact duplicate. The set is still to this day almost exactly as it was during the filming of "Public Enemy", with minor alterations.

Take care, Vincent.

Vincenzo said...

Thanks Christophe for the comment!

Yes Vince, I definitely know what you mean...I grew up in Flushing, Queens under the shadow of Shea Stadium and had the entire city at my disposal just for the mere price of a token on the #7 line.

Thanks for sharing your story and leaving the kind comment...much appreciated!!!

Jim Hopkins said...

Hey, fellow Queens resident! I grew up in Woodside and Maspeth.


BTW, I PM'ed you over at the DB...

SuprMom said...

Vin,
Can you please tell me the tilte of the 5th painting down (2 women and one man)? Is that a characature painting (sorry I am not familiar with this artist).
Thanks Michele
P.S. Love the Salma sketch too, must have been tough doing that research (alright).

SuprMom said...

Sorry, I found it. That one really hits a spot in my memory, for more than one reason. Eerily familiar...