Bellows's wife, Emma, and their daughters figure prominently in a gallery about women, his relationship with his wife, a testament to enduring love.
He painted many other women, too, and the horrors of World War I.
Bellows reluctantly supported the war and his art was used to encourage the American people to buy Liberty bonds. (Contrast his responses to war with those of Joan Miro in the exhibition in the East Building.)
His breakaway style dramatically emphasizes human curves, the lines of landscape, and keen grasp of lighting and its effects. His love of sports shows up in many of his skillful renderings of male athletes.
Standing back and admiring his compositions, one is struck by the symmetry and importance of the designs and lines: Trees, buildings, bridges, and the ground often direct attention to the main subject: people.
But look in the distance and what do you see?
He was born in Columbus, Ohio where he was bullied as a child in school. Later, at The Ohio State University, Bellows played basketball and baseball, drew illustrations for the yearbook, and rejected an offer to play ball for the Cincinnati Reds so he could take off for New York and pursue an art education. Not what his father wanted his only child to do, but better your heart than your head.
Bellows died at age 42 from the effects of appendicitis, leaving behind so many strong renderings on so many different subjects, viewers can only guess about his output had he lived as long as his contemporary and friend, Edward Hopper, born the same year as Bellows and living until age 85.
From the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. the show travels to the Metropolitan Museum in New York (November 15) and then, the Royal Academy of Arts in London (March 16, 2013).
For their sponsorship of this exhibition the people of the United States and guests are grateful to Nippon Television Network Corporation, The Terra Foundation for American Art, the Henry Luce Foundation, the Cordover Family Foundation, and The Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts.
Music for the silent film, The New York Hat, and lecture
Music by Gershwin, MacDowell, and other composers
Saturday, October 6, 1–5 p.m.
Illustrated lectures by noted scholars
What: George Bellows
When: Now through October 8, 2012, Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Sunday, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Where: National Gallery of Art, West Building, Washington, D.C., between 3rd and 9th streets at Constitution Avenue, NW
How much: No charge
For more information: 202-737-4215 or www.nga.gov.