Four of the world’s greatest boxing masterpieces, plus extraordinary depictions of football, tennis, and polo in the early part of the 20th century, will be on view at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, for only two more weeks through October 8 in the retrospective exhibition George Bellows. Three of these paintings will travel with the exhibition to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (November 15, 2012–February 18, 2013) and then to London (March 16–June 9, 2013).
As the end of the show in DC draws near, the Gallery is delighted to premiere the short 3 ½-minute film “The Art of Boxing” featuring Sharmbá Mitchell, former two-time Junior Welterweight Champion of the World, and Charles Brock, associate curator of American and British paintings at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, in conversation about the four greatest sports paintings in American art―Club Night (1907), Stag at Sharkey's (1909), Both Members of This Club (1909), and Dempsey and Firpo (1924)―only on view together in the Washington installation.
To view the 3 ½ minute film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3OmAaasGnA
An enthusiastic athlete himself, American artist George Bellows (1882–1925) created paintings, drawings, and prints not only of boxing subjects but also of baseball, football, tennis, basketball, and polo. Born in Columbus, Ohio, he attended Central High School where he played basketball and baseball. At Ohio State, Bellows played basketball and baseball, as well as semipro baseball during the summer in Ohio, and later in Brooklyn, NY.
· George Bellows’ early fight paintings chronicle the clandestine, often brutal fights that were organized by private clubs in New York to circumvent a state ban on public boxing.
· Displaying raw male aggression and reflecting the multiple viewpoints of a theater in the round, the artist’s early masterpieces broke decisively with the pieties of the Victorian era and were widely considered shocking.
· Of Bellows’ boxing works, there are 4 paintings and 9 drawings and prints included in the exhibition.
· In 1982-1983, the National Gallery of Art hosted the popular exhibition Bellows: The Boxing Pictures, which included 39 works depicting the theme of prizefighting in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of George Bellows.
· Bellows’ illustration assignments for Collier's and Harper's Weekly led him to record new aspects of American life ranging from sporting events to religious revival meetings, as seen in The Football Game (1912).
· The exhibition includes 3 fully developed football drawings, 2 of which illustrated Edward Lyell Fox’s “Hold ‘em!” published in the November 1912 issue of Everybody’s Magazine.
Tennis and Polo
· A small group of park scenes in New York, interspersed with short campaigns recording polo at Lakewood, New Jersey, and tennis at Newport, Rhode Island, together amplify Bellows’ role as a savvy painter of modern life.
· Swaths of white—dazzling dresses and spotless tennis whites—cut across many of his leisure compositions, including Crowd at a Polo Game (1910, Private collection).
· Several of the polo and tennis pictures number among the artist’s largest works—there are 4 in the exhibition.
· Set at the Newport Casino, designed by McKim, Mead, and White, the tennis works focus on the audience rather than the game.
The exhibition will travel to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (November 15, 2012–February 18, 2013), and close at the Royal Academy of Arts, London (March 16–June 9, 2013).
George Bellows was organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, in association with The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Royal Academy of Arts, London. The exhibition is made possible by Nippon Television Network Corporation, Tokyo, Japan. The Terra Foundation for American Art is the proud sponsor of the exhibition in Washington and London. The exhibition is generously supported by the Henry Luce Foundation. In Washington, it is also made possible by the Cordover Family Foundation, with additional support provided by The Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts. This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.
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