Friday, June 29, 2012

things to do: george bellows exhibit

I got sucked into the George Bellows exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. There's something about these paintings that makes you want to stand there and just look at them.

Bellows painted several scenes of boxers in the ring that caught my eye, like this one from 1909. It's called Both Members of This Club. The fight is bloody and primal, and the smirking men in the crowd clearly are entertained by that. (Click the picture to enlarge it.)

National Gallery of Art

And this gritty painting is titled The Lone Tenement, which Bellows painted in New York City, also in 1909. The surrounding buildings had been razed as part of a bridge construction project, except for this one holdout tenement.

National Gallery of Art

Bellows made these paintings almost 100 years ago, and he died in 1925, but the themes remain relevant. The first one makes me think about how we're entertained by others' pain -- like reality TV and even football players who develop dementia from concussions. And the second one shows urban displacement in the name of progress.

The exhibition runs through Oct. 8 at the National Gallery of Art's west building. It'll be in New York in the winter and London through the spring.

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