- Also known as
primary name: Bellows, George Wesley
- individual; painter/draughtsman; printmaker; American (USA); Male
- Life dates
- Born of a Methodist family, Bellows was the son of a building contractor in Columbus, Ohio. As a young man he excelled at sports and nearly became a professional baseball player, but was drawn to art which became his main interest. In 1901 he registered at Ohio State University, Columbus, but left without graduating in 1904, when he moved to New York and joined the New York School of Art. His teachers were Robert Henri and also, briefly, John Sloan, with whom he was associated as one of 'The Eight', known more colloquially as the Ashcan School. In 1913, under the direction of Sloan, he joined the art board of the left-wing periodical The Masses, producing some twenty-five illustrations for the magazine by 1917.
Bellows's career rose rapidly when measured against that of his contemporaries. His early paintings of street children, such as River Rats, 1906 (private collection) and Forty-two Kids, 1907 (Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC), which were composed in a broad, loose style, with strong contrasts of light and dark, attracted critical attention; River Rats was shown in the 1906 spring exhibition of the National Academy of Design. In 1909 he became the youngest ever Associate of the National Academy. He was involved in the hanging of New York's 'International Exhibition of Modern Art' at the Armory, in which his work was also included. From 1910 until 1919 Bellows taught in the life and composition classes at the Art Students League and in 1919 at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Bellows was introduced to lithography by the printer George Miller in 1916 when he had a press installed in the studio of his house on East 19th Street. From 1918-19 he began to collaborate with Bolton Brown as his printer. By the time of his early death from a burst appendix in 1925, he had produced some 193 prints; his most intense period was between 1923 and 1924, when he made sixty-four lithographs alone. The subjects of his lithographs ranged from sporting themes to images of New York street life, as well as political concerns, while studies of the nude and many portraits dominated the latter years. Bellows worked directly on the lithographic stone for immediacy and speed, and soon showed a mastery of crayon and wash techniques. Although his career was cut short, his reputation as one of America's most significant lithographers and painters has continued to grow.
- Lauris Mason, 'The Lithographs of George Bellows: A Catalogue Raisonné '(1977), assisted by Joan Ludman and with a foreword by Charles H. Morgan, rev. edn, San Francisco: Alan Wofsy Fine Arts, 1992