One of the great figures in Twentieth Century American art, George Bellows (1882-1925) is best known for the muscular style and gusto of his paintings of turn-of-the-century urban scenes and depictions of boxing matches. His identification with the cityscapes of the Ashcan School has overshadowed the significant achievements of his final years, when he painted powerful rural landscapes and memorable portraits.
This exhibition, the first to focus exclusively on the work of his last four years in Woodstock, N.Y., reveals that in just five years, 1920-1924, this restless and ambitious artist grew and developed in ways that changed his palette and altered his style in substantial ways. Bellows created some of his most interesting and compelling paintings in that Catskill Mountains area before his sudden death at age 42.
With more than 30 paintings and more than 20 drawings, “Leaving for the Country: George Bellows at Woodstock” and its excellent catalog should go a long way toward increasing understanding of and appreciation for this all-American artist’s concluding work.
The rewarding, visually appealing show was curated by Marjorie B. Searl, chief curator at the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, and Ronald Netsky, chair of the art department at Nazareth College. After opening in Rochester, N.Y., the exhibition is currently on view at the Terra Museum of American Art through January 11, and then travels to the Georgia Museum of Art in Athens (February 21-May 16) and Vero Beach (Fla.) Museum of Art (September 3-November 7, 2004).
By Stephen May
CHICAGO, ILL. – Often called the father of modern art, Edouard Manet is viewed by some as a realist, by others as an Impressionist. In his work he often combined elements of both styles – and had an influence on followers of each movement.
Manet was, first and foremost, a chronicler of modern life. Building on an abiding interest in people, he followed writer Charles Beaudelaire’s advice that artists should depict contemporary life.
Born in Paris, son of a senior government magistrate and a diplomat’s daughter, Manet (1832-1883) grew up in a family of affluence and high ambitions. His father wanted his son to follow him into the law, but Manet – an indifferent student – rebelled, seeking to become an artist.
As a compromise, Manet tried to enter the French naval academy, but twice failed qualifying examinations. A voyage to Rio de Janeiro gave him practical maritime experience.
In Manet’s late teens, his father relented and let his son begin art studies with successful academic painter Thomas Couture. Over the course of six years Manet learned the disciplines of creating serious art. He also copied Old Masters at the Louvre and in Italy, gaining knowledge of traditional art and respect for past conventions.