American painter George Bellows is the subject of an expansive career retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Despite his premature death at age 42 (from a ruptured appendix), Bellows is widely considered one of the greatest American artists of all time.
The Met exhibit showcases some 120 oeuvres, including gritty scenes of New York tenement life in the early 20th century, as well as seascapes, war scenes, portraits, and paintings of sporting events.
Bellows’ most celebrated work, Dempsey Firpo (1924), captures one of the most famous boxing matches of the 20th century, between American boxer Jack Dempsey and Argentine Luis Angel Firpo.
The grueling match, which saw Firpo fall 10 times and Dempsey twice, ended with a dramatic flair after Firpo knocked Dempsey out of the ring with a massive blow to the jaw.
In his paintings, illustrations and lithographs, Bellows (1882–1925) addressed many of the social, political, and cultural issues of the day.
His stark gritty portrayals of life in New York City, Maine’s rugged coast, boxers in the ring and the atrocities of World War I are among the triumphs of early 20th-century art.
When George died on Jan. 8, 1925, American author Sherwood Anderson noted that Bellow’s paintings “keep telling you things. They are telling you that Mr. George Bellows died too young. They are telling you that he was after something, that he was always after it.”
The George Bellows exhibit is on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through Feb. 18, 2013.