George Wesley Bellows was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1882. From 1901 until 1904, he attended Ohio State University. He worked as a commercial illustrator to help support himself during school. George Bellows was an athlete and could have been successful as a professional baseball player, but he wanted to pursue a career in art. He left Ohio State shortly before graduation and moved to New York City to study art. Soon after arriving, George Bellows became a student of Robert Henri at the New York School of Art. There he became associated with Henri’s “The Eight” and the Ashcan School, a group of artist that advocated painting contemporary American society in all its forms.
His work was first noticed in 1908, when he and other students of Henri organized an exhibition of mostly urban studies. Many found his work to have surpassed his teacher. Beginning in 1912, Bellows visited Monhegan Island in Maine. Amazed by the Eastern coastline, he executed more than thirty seascapes in a single summer.
In 1913, George Bellows was represented in the Armory Show. His figural paintings of amateur boxing matches and working class people seemed out of place among the abstraction displays at the Armory Show. In the same year, Bellows was named an Associate of the National Academy of Design, which made him the youngest artist to ever be elected. By 1916, George Bellows turned to lithography, a method seldom used at that time. He has nearly 200 lithographs that deal with a variety of subjects including genre scenes, portraits, nudes, literary illustrations, landscapes and humorous and satiric commentaries.
By 1917, Bellows had gained popularity in his genre and was extended an invitation to participate as an instructor at the Artists Colony in Carmel, CA. He taught at the Chicago Art Institute as well in 1919. George Bellows won over 15 prestigious awards and produced numerous paintings that have now become important pieces in the history of American art. Few American artists of the twentieth century have achieved such a reputation as Bellows in such a short time.
George Bellows was an American realist painter most recognized for his bold depictions of life in New York City. Although he was a skilled illustrator, he rarely made study sketches for his paintings. His impressions of everyday moments were applied directly onto his canvases. George Wesley Bellows died 1925, as a result of a neglected attack of appendicitis at the age of 42. His wife played an important role in keeping his work alive and having it exhibited. His paintings and prints can be found in collections of many major American art museums, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Philips Collection in Washington, DC, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and The Hyde Collection in Glen Falls, NY.